Brazil 3-1 Croatia

By Updated at 2014-06-18 05:01:32 +0000


>> All the results as they happen

The opening match of the 2014 World Cup got underway on Thursday when three children released doves at the center of the Corinthians Arena pitch in Sao Paulo.
Croatia went ahead 11 minutes into the match through an own goal from Brazil defender Marcelo. But the hosts equalized near the half hour mark when Neymar's scuffed shot just barely bounced in off the far post.
The two sides went into halftime level at 1-1.
In the second period, Japanese referee on the night Yuichi Nishimura was thrust into the spotlight. A controversial penalty award gave Neymar the chance to put the hosts ahead from the spot in the 71st minute, making an early charge for the 2014 Golden Boot with two goals.
Minutes later, Croatia had the ball in the net, but Nishimura halted play, judging that Wolfsburg's Ivica Olic had jumped unfairly with Julio Cesar in Brazil's goal prior to the strike.
Brazil put the Croats out of contention in stoppage time; Chelsea's Oscar dribbled through the defense and poked the ball low into the corner from just outside the area - completing a perhaps flattering 3-1 victory for Brazil.

Brazil are under enormous pressure. The home fans expect nothing less than to see their country hoist its first world cup trophy on home soil after the final whistle on June 13.
The Brazil squad features no surprises, as coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has stuck with largely the same starting 11 since the team's triumphant Confederations Cup campaign last year.
The Croatians, meanwhile, are without the services of star striker Mario Mandzukic, who is serving out a suspension picked up during World Cup qualification.
Three current Bundesliga players are in the starting lineup - Brazil's Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg) and Croatia's Ivica Olic and Ivan Perisic (also Wolfsburg). Bayern Munich's Dante is on the bench.
Croatia are clear underdogs against the talented hosts, but their creative and tactically-strong midfield could see them surprise some sides. Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric form one of the world's strongest deep-lying playmaker duos, but they'll need strong performances from a questionable back line if they're to upset the mighty Brazil.
Brazil lineup:
Julio Cesar - Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo - Paulinho, Luiz Gustavo -Hulk, Oscar, Neymar - Fred
Croatia lineup:
Pletikosa - Srna, Corluka, Lovren, Vrsaljko - Rakitic, Modric - Perisic, Kovacic, Olic - Jelavic
The tournament kicks off in full on Friday, with Mexico taking on Cameroon and Spain facing the Netherlands in a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final.