Brazil opened the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a close fought 3-1 win over Croatia.
Despite all the expectation and hype about Brazil in the build up, it was Croatia who started brighter and took an early lead when Marcelo turned a scuffed effort from Nikica Jelavic into his own net.
However before long, the favourites and five time winners, Brazil, found their feet and leveled, somewhat controversially, the score thanks to their superstar, Neymar. The Barcelona striker was lucky not to receive more than a yellow card for a challenge, which had a hint of elbow in it, on Luka Modric.
More controversy allowed Neymar to give Brazil the lead for the first time on the night in the second half. The hosts were awarded a soft penalty when Dejan Lovren dragged down Fred in the area. Despite Croatia’s Stipe Pletikosa getting a strong hand to it, Neymar converted.
Croatia pilled the pressure on late on and had a goal ruled out after Ivica Olic fouled Julio Cesar but it was Brazil who were to score again to seal the match as Oscar poked in following a counter attack in stoppage time.
Brazil were hardly at their flowing best but an opening night was exactly what they were after. Croatia can take a lot of heart from their performance but will ultimately have to win their remaining two games against Mexico and Cameroon to qualify.
The first round of Group A fixtures are completed when Mexico face Cameroon (17:00). The winners are likely to challenge Croatia for second place.
Later on in the evening it is the turn of Group B as defending champions Spain face a re-match of the 2010 final against Holland (20:00). A match which is likely to decide the winners of the group.
Chile will go into their Group B match against Australia (23:00) as favourites. If they can pick up a win, they will provide serious competition to the European powerhouses in the group.Tweet