Neymar scores a brace and leads Brazil to victory in the inaugural match of the 2014 World Cup

Neymar scores against Croatia. PHOTO:
FC Barcelona forward Neymar Jr nets twice to give his nation a 3-1 victory over Croatia


Brazil: Julio César; Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo; Paulinho (Hernanes, min 63), Luiz Gustavo; Hulk (Bernard, min 68), Oscar, Neymar (Ramires, min 88); Fred.

Croatia: Pletikosa; Srna, Corluka, Lovren, Vrsaljko; Rakitic, Modric; Perisic, Kovacic (Brozovic, min 61), Olic; Jelavic (Rebic, min 78).

Goals: 0-1 Marcelo, pp (min 10), 1-1 Neymar (min 29), 2-1 Neymar (p) (min 70), 3-1 Oscar (min 91)

The World Cup officially kicked off this evening when Brazil hosted Croatia at São Paulo Arenas. The host team, with Neymar Jr and Dani Aves in the starting line-up, fell behind the Croats early with Marcelo knocked in an own goal but battled back when Neymar (2) and Oscar hit back to secure the three points.

Croatia absorbs pressure; sting on the counter

The opening minutes of the match saw an eager and slightly disorganized Brazilian side surge forward against a well established Croatian defence. The Croats weathered the opening foray and netted the fist goal of the 2014 World Cup after Marcelo deflected a cross past Julio César on 10 minutes.

It didn’t take Brazil long to equalise. After nearly 19 minutes, Neymar Jr latched onto the ball in the center of the pitch and charged toward the Croat goal. The FC Barcelona forward then fired the ball from just outside the area, hit the inside of the post and settled in the back of the net to bring Brazil level before the break.

Brazil secure the three points

The hosts, void of pre World Cup jitters, were more organised in the second half but the 1-1 deadlock wouldn’t shift until the 70th minute. Fred was brought down in the Croatian area and the referee pointed to the spot. It should be noted that the call was controversial. Neymar Jr stepped up and fired from the spot to give Brazil the lead. Oscar netted the third in stoppage time.