It took a questionable penalty call and some poor goalkeeping from Croatia, but Brazil came out on top in the World Cup opener on Thursday, getting two goals from star attacker Neymar to defeat Croatia 3-1 in Sao Paulo.
Brazil fell behind early, going down 1-0 in the 11th minute when defender Marcelo put a Croatia cross into his own net. The Selecao equalized in the 29th, when Neymar scored his first goal, rolling a left-footer from distance off the right post and into the back of the net.
Croatia kept things even until the 71st minute, when Neymar completed his brace by converting a penalty kick. The PK call was – as mentioned above – controversial, with Brazil forward Fred flopping to the ground inside the box to dupe the referee into whistling for the spot kick.
Croatia nearly found an equalizer on several occasions, but Brazil ended up icing the game in the 91st minute, when midfielder Oscar toe-poked home a shot from outside the box to put the South American side up 3-1.
While Brazil picked up all three points from the opener, it’s clear the hosts have some serious work to do if they’re to head all the way to the title. With a win in the bag however, they do have some time on their side. Croatia, on the other hand, will probably need a win in their next game on Wednesday against Cameroon.
The World Cup will resume with three matches tomorrow. Things will get started at 10 a.m. MT, when Mexico will take on Cameroon in Group A action. Group B will kick at 1 p.m. MT, with a rematch of the 2010 World Cup Final between Spain and Brazil. The day will wrap at 4 p.m. MT, when Chile takes on Australia.