Brazil vs Croatia: FIFA World Cup 2014 - As it happened...
Zee Media Bureau/Jayanta Oinam
Sao Paulo: Hosts Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1 to start their 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign on a winning note.
Full-time: Brazil 3 - 1 Croatia
90+4' - Brazil prevailed at home, humbled Croatia 3-1.
90+1' - Into the injury time. Added four minutes. It's the first time Croatia conceded three goals in a World Cup match.
90' - Oscar GOAL!!! With minutes in to the final whistle, Brazil survived a scare. But against the run of the play, Oscar scored from a left-footed shot.
88' - Brazil substitution. Neymar out. Ramires in.
87' - Gustavo got a yellow card after scrambling to stop Rakitic on the run.
86' - Cesar produced a diving save to deny Croatia equaliser. From the resulting play, Gustavo was caught from behind and a free-kick was won for Brazil.
84' - Third corner for Croatia. A little pushing and shoving ended with a free-kick given to Brazil.
82' - Brazil attack is coming in a flurry. But in a rare moment of brilliance from the Croatians show a goal disallowed by the referee. Olic did jumped little higher than comfort against Cesar. The whistle had already been blown before the ball rebounded for the goal.
80' - Croatia, in search of the equaliser, are leaving the centre open, and the Brazilian mid-fielders are enjoying a free run here.
79' - Neymar won a corner, but have had an alarming situation for himself in the process. But he is fine. The corner was fairly defended but Fred got to the ball first.
77' - Croatia substitution, Jelavic out. Rebic in.
76' - What a day for Oscar. His delivery from the left flank almost got Luiz for a header. Just missed by a whisker.
75' - After playing a tidy game for more than an hour, Croatians found themselves trailing against the hosts. Their unbeaten run this year may well end here today.
72' - From the restart, Croatia almost found the equalizer with Luiz tantalizingly saving himself off an own goal.
70' - Neymar converted from the spot. Pletikosa's finger-tips wasn't enough to stop the swerving ball.
69' - Penalty for Brazil. A hard decision on the Croatians. But Fred was in a dangerous position, trying to turn and make a shot.
67' - Brazil substitute. Bernard on for Hulk.
66' - Alves got his chance, but his free-kick sailed over the bar. His search for seventh international goal, thus, continues.
65' - A good period for the Europeans but from the counter, Neymar created some anxious moments for them. But Neymar's run ended with a technical foul by Vedra, for which he was booked, outside the box. Free-kick.
63' - Brazil substitute. Paulinho out. Hernanes in.
62' - Quick throw from Alves after blocking Olic in the run.
60' - A rather quite period. First substitute for the match, as Marcelo Brozovic earned his second cap, replacing Mateo Kovacic.
59' - Free kick won by Marcelo, committed by Srna. Could have easily got booked.
58'- From a free-kick won at the centre, Oscar raced through the box. But the relay play was halted by Olic.
56' - Oscar missed a long release in the Croatia box. But soon the Brazilians regained the possession in Sao Paulo.
55' - Throw in for Croatia in the Brazil half. Resulting from the play, Perisic tried a long ranger. But the attempt sailed over the bar.
52' - Rakitic and Modric finally got to combined in the centre. But their attack was foiled by Alves in the goal-mouth.
49' - First free-kick of the half to Brazil as Oscar won a foul near the flag. But the resultant kick resulted in nothing worthy.
48' - Cesar left his position to join the play, outside of the box. From the build-up, the ball ended with Croatian defenders jostling to block the ball.
47' - A lazy mid-field play almost gave the ball away to the Croatians, but nothing untoward happened for the hosts.
46' – No substitution in the re-start. Neymar is certainly the focus now, but many would ask if would he still be playing if the referee thought otherwise on that foul, the one just before his equaliser.
In between, let's spare some thoughts on Pele's tweet
For this World Cup, I wish good health to all the players, safety and enjoyment to all the fans,
— Pelé (@Pele) June 12, 2014
Half-time: Brazil 1 - 1 Croatia
45+2' - With some desperate from the Croatians in the dying minutes of the first half, the score-line remains 1-1 at Arena Corinthians.
44' - Hulk wasted a golden chance to take the lead, following a Neymar run inside the Croatia box. But his strike sailed wayward, over the far end corner.
43' - Last few minutes into the lemon-break. Fred was in the off-side position but the linesman failed to notice it and an attempt on the goal was allowed.
41' - Neymar's attempt was headed away by Rakitic, from the wall.
39' - Oscar, playing in front of an attacking mid-field trio, is running amok in the final third. And helped Neymar win a free-kick from a foul by Rakitic.
38' - Silva called into action. The defender gave away a throw-in to the Croatians, from which Modric tried to push forward but to no avail.
37' - Neymar is controlling the mid-field play. From his play, Brazil got a chance to increase the lead, but a vital touch from a Croatian defender meant the ball going out of play.
34' - A brave block from Marcelo resulted in Croatia's corner. But Rakitic's delivery failed to create further chance for them.
33' - Srna challenege ended with yet another Brazil corner. But Neymar's curling, dipping delivery found Pletikosa. No harm for the Croatians.
32' - It was Neymar's 32nd goal for his country. And 211 for Brazil in the World Cup.
30' - Neymar GOAL after picking up the first yellow card of the tournament. A controlled drive ended up inside the goal to give the Brazilians the respite.
Oscar, for his bid which released the Barca man, is playing the game of his life.
28' - Free-kick for Croatia. Also a Yellow card, first of the match, to Neymar.
27' - With quarter of an hour gone, Brazil have enjoyed majority of the possession and also completed 100 passes. Awesome stats, but the goal?
26' - An elbow from Paulino did some damaged to a Croatian mid-fielder. But still, Brazil got the free-kick from that tussle in which two Croatians tried to block the lanky Brazilian.
24' - The 18th-ranked team is bearing an all out attack from the third-ranked team in the world.
22' - Surely, some testing time for the goalie. Produced yet another brilliant save to deny Oscar the goal. The attempt was a result of a brilliant Neymar move.
20' - Brazil started to attack more ferociously but a superb body block from the keeper meant the scoreline is still 1-0 in favour of the Europeans.
19' - Corner number three for Brazil, but the following play resulted in nothing for the hosts as Pletikosa collected the ball after a melee in the box.
17' - Superb ball skills from Alves, as the Barca full-back controls a looping delivery inside the Croatia box.
15' – Second Corner for Brazil. But Neymar's gentle push was readily negated by the Croatians.
14' - But as we all know about the Brazilians, they continue to push the ball forward. From such a move, Neymar found himself a couple of centimeters away from an Oscar delivery.
11' - OWN GOALMarcelo, poor Marcelo! It was nonetheless, a brilliant move from the Croatians with Ivica Olic delivering a low cross inside the Brazil D, where the Real Madrid player found his foot taking the slightest of touch.
10' - Neymar's delivery failed to take flight as the ball was headed away to safety by a defender.
9' - Paulinho attempted a long-ranger, but the ball got deflected from a Croatian defender. First corner.
7' - Olic got his header missing the goal-mouth, by a whisker. Superb play from Croatia.
6' - In the resultant play, Luiz got a clear header. But a weak touch meant easy collection for the Croatian goalie.
5' - Cesar got a touch of the ball as his team-mates pushed back the ball. His kicked sailed into the opposite half, where a rough play resulted in Brazil's free kick, first of the day.
3' - Quickly, Brazilian started to build their play from the centre. It's again, the pressing from the Europeans. A good chance for them to open the scoring but an alert defence clears the ball.
1' - First attempt from the Croatians, with the ball going out of play, from the Brazil goal-line.
Toss:Thiago Silva won the toss and chose the side. Croatia will start the match from the centre. As three children released the white doves, the Brazil World Cup is officially opened in Sao Paulo.
Teams out in the field! Saluted the gathering after the national anthems.
Brazil in World Cup opening match for fourth time. In 1950, they beat Mexico 4-0. In 1974, drew 0-0 with Yugoslavia. In 1998, defeated Scotland 2-1.
Officiating the opening match of the 2014 World Cup will be Japan's Yuichi Nishimura.
Here is the starting line-up:
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Luiz, Marcelo, Paulinho, Gustavo, Hulk, Oscar, Neymar, Fred.
Subs: Jefferson, Fernandinho, Dante, Maxwell, Henrique, Ramires, Hernanes, Willian, Bernard, Jo, Maicon, Victor.
Crotia: Croatia: Pletikosa, Srna, Corluka, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Modric, Rakitic, Perisic, Kovacic, Olic, Jelavic.
Subs: Zelenika, Pranjic, Vukojevic, Schildenfeld, Brozovic, Rebic, Sammir, Vida, Eduardo, Subasic.
The FIFA World Cup has made a return to its spiritual capital after a gap of 64 years. Every Brazilian remembers the heartbreak of the 1950 World Cup final when Uruguay beat them at the Maracana. For all the Brazilian fans, this is more than just a World Cup. The fanatical supporters of the Selecao will be egging their team on in search of the "Hexa".
There is no doubt Brazil start this tournaments as the hot favorites. The flair and flamboyance of this team may not be at par with their predecessors, but this still is a team with some of the finest footballers on the planet. The golden boy of Brazilian football – Neymar, is the talisman of this team and as the iconic Pele believes carries a burden of entire nation.
Luiz Felipe Scolari`s men will go into their opening match against Croatia on the back of a nine game winning streak. They haven`t lost an international match since August 2013. Having beaten Spain to win the Confederations Cup on home soil, Brazil have arrived in Sao Paulo with supreme confidence. They are also the only big team who have not picked up any injury and have the luxury of a full strength squad.
Croatia are not the most preferred opponent Brazil would want to face first up. They have a reputation to make things uncomfortable and suffocate the opposing teams by not letting them play free-flowing football. Brazil experienced this in the 2006 FIFA World Cup during their 1-0 over the Croatians in the Group stage.
Luka Modric will be pulling the strings for Croatia from the middle of the park. He possesses all the desired qualities to control a big match like this. He will have other experienced players who play regularly for top European clubs for company to neutralize the likes of Oscar. The biggest miss for Croatia will be the absence of their star striker Mario Mandzukic through suspension. The Bayen Munich forward has scored 26 goals for his club during this season and has been in great form.
The two teams have played each other only twice before. The first match was an international friendly that ended up in a 1-1 draw. The second time was at a similar stage at the 2006 World Cup where a 44th minuted Kaka goal helped Brazil earn maximum points. Croatia have never beaten Brazil and looking at the firepower at the disposal of the Selecao, that trend looks set to continue.