Neymar scores twice and escapes a red card in his Wold Cup debut
Brazil opened the battle for their sixth World Cup title with a tough 3-1 victory against Croatia. The 'Seleçao' was behind early after a moment of aberration from Marcelo. Neymar protected his team by scoring two goals. Although both goals from the god-like star were made possible when a controversial penalty was awarded . Croatia felt as if the Japanese referee Nishimura was favoring sides, which made the team infuriated.
Imagination was left aside in the Brazilian formation, selected by manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. On the other side Niko Kovac, the Croatian manager, kept Eduardo, who's origin is Brazilian, on the bench. Veteran Ivica Olic (34) and Jelavic, covered the front line. It was Olic who gave the Brazilian fans a good scare now and then with his malicious headers. Shortly thereafter, teammates Kevin De Bruyn and Olic astonished a packed Arena de São Paulo with the first ever own-goal for Brazil, since the World Cup in 98, scored by the Brazilian left wing-back Marcelo.
The whole stadium stood by in confusion a they witnessed such a blunder occurring in front of their own nation during the openings match, even though Croatia's lead only lasted 15 minutes. Pletikosa saved his team from considering another goal. Where the spotlights were fully on 22-year old Neymar da Silva Santos Junior on two separate occasions. First was when his elbow landed on the face of Croatian maestro Luka Modric, where Neymar was only shown a yellow card. The second when Neymar delicately finished off a shot from outside the penalty box to even up the score. Croatia certainly felt the pressure as the home support began to cheer on the Brazilians even more, but still managed to keep the score level for the remainder of the first half.
The second half was not as pleasant to watch as the first. Brazil had no mercy for the Croatians. This became clear when even the spray, the great FIFA-invention, which lines up the players wall at the required 9m15 did not stop the Seleçao. Even though Dani Alves did not get the ball in, he received help from the referee who punished Lovren after pulling Fred. Team Croatia had difficulties keeping their calm after this incident. Even though the Croatian keeper Pletikora nearly saved the penalty, Neymar tucked in the spot kick superbly to hand the Brazilians a 2-1 lead.
Croatia felt the sting for the third time when Croatian legend Olic jumped to challenge for a header with Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar. Olic was found to have fouled Cesar and as such a clear goal opportunity that was presenting itself to Croatian Lila Modric was significantly disallowed. To add more mystery for the Croatians, Oscar finished off the Brazilians' night with another goal late into the second half. The Croatian manager was simply astonished and only commented that the Croatians better pack up and go home if it is going to be like this. The Croatians were given no respect tonight said the infuriated manger.