The goalkeeper came up with a pair of big saves to protect Mexico's lead and couldn't be faulted for either of the Netherlands' late goals.Eventually, it came time for the moment Mexico fans had feared.
Guillermo Ochoa could do no more.
But before Wesley Sneijder's unstoppable volley and Klaas Jan Huntelaar's penalty kick, the Mexico goalkeeper did everything he could to keep El Tri in this World Cup.
Even though the Netherlands rode that late surge to a 2-1 win and a spot in the quarterfinals, Ochoa delivered another heroic performance to solidify his status as one of this World Cup's breakout stars. For 88 minutes, his saves and smarts stifled the Oranje.
On a day that nearly went down as a historic occasion for Mexican soccer, there were many impressive outings. Giovani dos Santos put El Tri ahead with a stunning long-range strike. Hector Herrrera was a strong two-way presence in the midfield once more. And Rafa Marquez (52 for 62 passing, 11 clearances) was a rock until conceding the controversial penalty kick that sent Mexico out.
It was Ochoa, however, who protected Mexico's precarious lead until the game's dying moments.
Although he was only credited with two saves, those stops were of the spectacular variety. In the 57th minute, Ochoa positioned himself to stop Stefan de Vrij's point-blank header, then reacted quickly enough to deflect the ball off the post and out. Seventeen minutes later, he came up with an athletic kick save to deny Arjen Robben.
Ochoa also was a force in the air, confidently claiming several Dutch services. Even as the game wore on and the Netherlands attacked with increasing vigor, the confidence Ochoa ingrained in his back line was tangible.
After barely beating out Jesus Corona for the starting job, Ochoa has done more than enough to justify his selection. Now a free agent following his exit from French side Ajaccio, he's surely earned himself no small amount of cash as well.