Brazil picked up an expected victory in their opening World Cup game after a three goals to one victory over Croatia. The home nation went behind unexpectedly before two goals from Neymar and a late goal from Oscar saw normality restored to Group A.
The first major chance of the 2014 World Cup Finals yielded a shock outcome as Ivica Olic delivered a great ball low along the ground that Marcelo could not adjust to in time to do anything other than steer the ball into his own net. The unfortunate honour of scoring the tournament’s first own goal falling upon the defender in the process.
Brazil went close to drawing level through Oscar just ten minutes later. Neymar went on one of his trademark runs before the ball eventually fell via a deflection to Oscar who unleashed a curling effort from the edge of the box which forced Stipe Pletikosa into a fantastic save.
Just before the half hour mark Brazil were back in this Group A opener after Neymar picked up the ball 35 yards out from goal before taking two touches and then hitting the ball into the far corner past Pletikosa. In truth the keeper possibly should have done a bit better as Neymar did not connect with the ball the way in which the Barcelona man might have liked with the ball only barely trundling its way into the Croatian net clipping the post in the process.
The second half started in uninspiring fashion with the caginess of the first half still clearly evident in both sides play. Whenever an attack did materialise it was Brazil that appeared to be causing Croatia all the problems with Neymar continuing to be the danger man. It was one of Neymar's runs that yielded Corluka picking up a yellow card thirty yards out from goal. Dani Alves then tried his luck from the free kick but the effort just dipped over the Croats crossbar.
With twenty minutes remaining we then had the first major controversial moment of this year's tournament as the Japanese match official awarded the home team a penalty that seemed harsh with very little contact being made. Neymar then stepped up and blasted the penalty into the net. Goalkeeper Pletikosa got two hands to the poorly placed spot kick but the power of the kick had enough to mean that Brazil took the lead for the first time in the game.
Brazil then secured the points in injury time when Oscar ran at the heart of the Croatian defence before toe poking the ball into the net from twenty yards out to give Brazil a 3-1 victory.
Next up for Brazil is a game against Mexico on Tuesday in Fortaleza whilst Croatia will face Cameroon on Wednesday in Manaus.
Brazil: Julio Cesar; Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo; Luis Gustavo, Paulinho (Hernanes 63); Oscar, Hulk (Bernard 68), Neymar (Ramires 88); Fred.
Subs Not Used: Henrique, Jefferson Galvao, Fernandinho, Dante, Bernard, Jo, Maicon, Maxwell, Victor, Willian
Booked: Neymar (27)
Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa; Darifo Srna, Vedran Corluka, Dejan Lovren, Sime Vrsaljko; Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic, Mateo Kovacic (Marcelo Bronzovic 61); Ivica Olic, Nikica Jelavic (Ante Rebic 78)
Subs Not Used: Oliver Zelenika, Ohnen Vukojevic, Domagoj Vida, Danijel Subasic, Gordon Schildenfeld, Sammir, Danijel Pranjic, Mario Mandxukic, Eduardo da Silva, Milan Badelj
Booked: Vedran Corluka (65), Dejan Lovren (69)
Referee: Yuichi Nishimura (Japan)
Extratime.com Man Of The Match: Neymar (Brazil) - The Brazilian stood out a country mile from the rest of the pack as the Barcelona front man found himself at the forefront of all of Brazil's menacing attacks.
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