Barcelona forward, Neymar, scored two goals in Brazil’s 3-1 win over Croatia in the opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup at Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo.
Croatia opened the scoring through an own goal from Marcelo after just 11 minutes, but the Selecao equalised through a Neymar strike on 29 minutes.
The World Cup hosts then took the lead courtesy of a controversial penalty taken by Neymar, after Fred went down under the faintest of pressures from Dejan Lovren in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
The game was put beyond Croatia’s reach in the 91st minute, when Oscar smashed home a fantastic finish from distance.
Croatia initially had the boldness to take the game to the hosts – and score first, courtesy of an own goal by Marcelo but the drive of Brazil not to fail on such an occasion proved decisive.
This was a game brimming with breathtaking technical skill, and not just from Brazil.
All eyes had been on the green-and-gold shirts in the last few days. but inspired by Luka Modric, it was those in red-and-white checks who had by far the better of the opening exchanges.
As it turned out, the shock of going behind was electrifying. Brazil began to attack with gusto, Neymar’s wonderful feet at the centre of the action.
It was time for Neymar to take centre stage, after being only booked for what looked a forearm smash on Modric, he struck the equaliser in the 29th minute. Oscar was deeply involved in the build-up and though it may not have been the cleanest of strikes, his shot went through the legs of a defender and in off the post.
In the second half, Brazil took a more patient approach, putting Croatia under increasing pressure.
Then came the controversy. Fred went for the ball in the Croatia penalty area, and Southampton centre-back Dejan Lovren laid barely a finger on his shoulder for the Brazil striker to fling himself down. Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura awarded the softest of spot-kicks, dispatched by Neymar despite Pletikosa getting his fingers to it.
Croatia tried to respond, and had the ball in the net only for Olic to be penalised for a hefty challenge on keeper Julio Cesar, leaving Oscar to surprise Pletikosa with a steered finish with the toe of his boot to send the hosts into raptures.