Mexico 0 Angola 0: Angolans make point in Mexican stand-off

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The Independent Football

With so much excitement going on in the Group of Death, it was easy to forget that a third encounter took place here last night as Mexico and Angola played out a goalless draw in Group D. It was a moral victory for the Africans, making their tournament debut, as they secured their first-ever point in the finals despite finishing with 10 men.

The result sent the Mexicans to the top of the group but they may still need to take something in their last match against their main rivals Portugal, who play tonight, to make sure of reaching their customary place in the last 16.

The Mexicans began as if their whole campaign depended on this one fixture, Guillermo Franco and Pavel Pardo going close in the first five minutes before Gonzalo Pineda rifled a shot against the post from Pardo's tapped free-kick. But once they had settled into a rhythm, the tournament debutants created a couple of half-chances of their own in a game that was played at a lightning-quick pace.

As against Portugal, when they lost by the only goal of the game, Angola defended resolutely and counter-attacked with purpose. The vast Mexican support should have been celebrating 10 minutes into the second half, however, when Franco was clean through but did not lift his chip high enough and allowed the excellent goalkeeper Joao Ricardo to claw the ball to safety.

With 12 minutes left, Andre Macanga was shown a second yellow card and a red as he was dismissed for handball but Angola survived despite a frantic Mexican onslaught when Ricardo brilliantly tipped away Rafael Marquez's 25-yard piledriver and Omar Bravo then struck the post in the dying minutes.

Mexico (3-5-2): Sanchez (Guadalajara); Salcido (Guadalajara), Osorio (Cruz Azul), Marquez (Barcelona); Pineda (Guadalajara), Pardo (America), Zinho (Toluca), Torrado (Cruz Azul), Mendez (Monterrey); Bravo (Guadalajara), Franco ((Villarreal).

Substitutes used: Arellano (Monterrey) for Zinho, 51; Fonseca (Cruz Azul) for Franco, 73; Morales (Guadalajara) for Pineda, 77.

Angola (4-5-1): Ricardo (unattached); Jamba (AS Aviacao), Kali (Barreirense), Loco (Primeiro Agosto), Delgado (Petro Atletico); Figueiredo (Varzim), Macanga (Kuwait SC), Mateus (Gil Vicente), Ze Kalanga (Petro Atletico), Mendonca (Varzim); Akwa (unatt).

Substitutes used: Mantorras (Benfica) for Mateus, 67; Rui Marques (Hull City) for Figueiredo, 73; Milloy (InterClube) for Kalanga, 82.

Booked: Mexico Pineda; Angola Delgado, Macanga, Ze Kalanga. Sent off: Macanga (second booking).

Referee: Shamsul Maidin (Singapore).