TLANTA (AP) – Raul Jimenez’s late header for Mexico went just wide in a 0-0 tie with Nigeria in an exhibition game at the Georgia Dome.
The game between World Cup qualifiers attracted 68,212 fans, the largest crowd for a soccer game in Atlanta. The previous record was 54,229 for a 2013 Gold Cup doubleheader that included Mexico.
The audience was distinctly pro-Mexican, and did not have a lot to cheer about in the early going as the 21st-ranked El Tri failed to muster much in the first half.
Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa made two of his three first-half saves within a minute of each other, first in the 12th minute when Nigerian forward Emmanuel Emenikie snaked his way past the defense only to have Ochoa punch away his shot from about 20 yards. Soon after, Nigeria – No. 47 in the FIFA world rankings – played a corner kick from the right. The ball found its way high, and midfielder John Obi Mikel got a lead foot on it, sending a shot from 35 yards that Ochoa punched away.
As the match wore on, Mexico was generally content to try and build its scoring opportunities from midfield rather than play long balls and run.
Nigerian backup goalkeeper Austin Ejide, a late sub for Vincent Enyeama, had to make a couple punch saves in the final 10 minutes, but he would not have blocked Jimenez’s shot if it were on target. Jimenez got to a corner kick at the far post and his diving header sailed inches outside the post.
Mexico will play an exhibition game against the United States on April 2 in Glendale, Ariz.