Brazil have started their 2014 World Cup campaign with a controversial 3-1 victory over Croatia at Sao Paulo this morning.
The Brazilians were unbackable favourites to start the World Cup with a victory and the side were full of emotions during the singing of the National Anthem before kick-off, but it was Croatia who started the stronger and tested the shaky Brazilian defense in the opening ten minutes.
After missing an excellent goal scoring opportunity in the seventh minute, Croatia took a surprise lead after Brazilian defender Marcelo put an Ivica Olic cross past goalkeeper Julio Cesar and into his own net.
Conceding the opening goal appeared to spur Brazil into action and the talented Neymar and Oscar took control of the game in the midfield; with Oscar denied an equalizer by a brilliant save from Croatian goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa.
The pressure on Croatia continued to mount and it was golden boy Neymar that got his side back into the game at the 29 minute mark with a pinpoint shot from distance that beat Pletikosa and went into the net after hitting the inside of the right post.
Brazil dominated possession in the early stages of the second half, but were unable to create any chances and were clearly frustrated by their inability to work into a rhythm.
Just as things were starting to look desperate for Brazil they received some assistance from Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura, who awarded a penalty to the Brazilians after defender Dejan Lovren made contact with Fred – with replays showing that the striker had gone dramatically, despite Lovren making little contact.
Neymar was given the opportunity to send Brazil to the lead from the penalty spot and he converted the opportunity, despite Pletikosa getting two hands to the shot.
The Croatians were furious with the penalty decision, but were able to maintain their composure and created a few chances of their own before Oscar secured a Brazilian victory with a well-deserved goal in the first minute of stoppage time.
Brazil will go into their second 2014 World Cup fixture with Mexico at the Estadio Castelao on June 17 with the opportunity to secure a spot in the second round, while Croatia will need to get something out of their game with Cameroon on June 18 to keep alive their hopes of progression.
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