Brazil 3-1 Croatia: World Cup 2014 – as it happened
Neymar scored a brace as Brazil got off to a winning start in a lively and at times controversial opener in São Paulo.
That's all from me for this evening. I have to dash off to record the first episode of our World Cup Daily podcast with James Richardson, which will be available on the website and for download from all the usual places in a few hours, so please tune in. Thanks for your time and your emails and enjoy the rest of the competition.
So, a decent opener to get the tournament rolling. It wasn't the greatest game of football you'll ever see, but there was plenty of drama to keep viewers entertained: goals, dodgy goalkeeping, poor refereeing decisions and more. Croatia will feel very aggrieved that they went behind to a penalty that almost certainly shouldn't have been awarded. They played well tonight, but not well enough.
Peep! Peep! Peep! It's all over. Brazil have won the opening game of their own World Cup, with a victory that was slightly fortuitous and nowhere near as convincing as the scoreline suggests. They won't care a jot, mind. Neither will their fans. Having gone a goal down through Marcelo poking one into his own net, they prevailed courtesy of brace from Neymar, with one coming from a penalty they seemed exceptionally lucky to get and even luckier to score. Oscar wrapped up proceedings with a late, late third which came seconds after Croatia had come perilously close to levelling the score.
90+2 min: There were two minutes of added time on the clock when Oscar scored Brazil's third, wrapping up a successful counter-attack after Perisic had narrowly failed to equalise for Croatia. At the end of a long run and unable to summon the energy to get past the last defender, Oscar showed fine improvisational skills to toe-poke a low drive home from distance, just inside the left upright. Pletikosa should have done a lot more to keep it out - his positioning was questionable to say the least.
GOAL! Brazil 3-1 Croatia (Oscar 90)
Oscar wraps up victory for Brazil, toe-poking a low shot past Pletikosa from outside the penalty area.
90 min: Julio Cesar is forced to dive low to save an low drive from Perisic from close range.
89 min: In a crowded penalty area, Vedran Corlka gets on the end of a cross from the right and sends a glancing header from about 12 yards, a couple of feet wide of the right upright.
88 min: Neymar's work is done for the evening. His number is held aloft by the fourth official and he goes off to an ovation. He's replaced by Ramires.
87 min: Julio Cesar is forced to dive to his right and bat away a low drive from distance fired his way by Luka Modric.
85 min: Replays showed that Ivica Olic jumped into Julio Cesar as he contested that high ball, but he was perfectly entitled to do so. It was no foul.
83 min: Rakitic drives forward from midfield and the ball's crossed from the left. Ivica Olic leaps to contest it and appears to be penalised for a foul on Julio Cesar, where no foul was committed. A flag goes up on the touchline and the ref's whistle is blown for a free-kick to Brazil as Croatia scramble the ball into their net.
80 min: Croatia made another substitution a couple of minutes ago. Nikica Jelavic trooped off after a fairly quiet evening and was replaced by Ante Rebic, a whelpish centre-forward who plies his trade with Fiorentina in Serie A.
78 min: Neymar goes on a mazy run through the middle of the pitch to the edge of the Croatia penalty area and tries to pick out Fred with a killer-pass. It's intercepted. Moments previously, David Luiz had snuffed out a goal-threat from Ivan Perisic with an industrial challenge that took the Croatian winger out over the bye-line.
76 min: Oscar whips in as splendid cross from the right flank, which David Luiz heads wide at the far post. If the centre-half had left the ball, Neymar was roaring in behind him and in a much better position to rifle the ball home. Clambering to his feet, Luiz ruffles the hair of Neymar by way of apology.
73 min: Stipe Pletikosa will be devastated he didn't save that penalty. Neymar's run-up was stuttering and the goagoalkeeper did well to stand his ground and guess the right way. The right-footed shot, when it came, was the perfect height for a goalkeeper and despite guessing the right way and getting a strong hand on the ball, Pletikosa was left holding his head in frustration after failing to keep it out.
GOAL! Brazil 2-1 Croatia (Neymar 71pen)
Brazil's best player scores, but only just. Pletikosa dived to his right and got both hands on the ball, but couldn't prevent it from going past him. That's shocking - he should have kept that out.
Penalty for Brazil!
68 min: Dejan Lovren brings down Fred as he tried to turn in the penalty area. That's a poor decision - replays suggest the striker seems to have fallen over. Lovren gets booked.
66 min: Vedran Corluka concedes a free-kick about 25 yards out, more or less straight in front of goal, for fouling Neymar after gifting the Brazilian possession with a loose pass to Ivan Rakitic. The defender is booked for his troubles, taking a yellow card for the team with his damage-limiting late lunge.
65 min: Vrsaijko and Olic and combine well down the left wing, trying to create an opening. The ball's crossed to the left and Brazil win possession and embark on a counter attack.
64 min: Brazil substitution: Inter midfielder Hernanes comes on in place of Paulinho.
62 min: Modric, Srna and Perisic combine on the edge of the Brazil penalty area, but fail to find an opening under more relentless pressure from the apparently tireless Brazilians.
60 min: Croatia make their first substitution. Marcelo Brozovic on for his second international appearance. Mateo Kovacic makes way.
56 min: Luka Modric plays a long pass into space on the inside right for Ivica Olic to chase. The striker does exactly that and is tripped by Dani Alves as he makes his way towards the penalty area. Julio Cesar wins the ball and Alves escapes a red card for preventing what could have been interpreted as a clear goal-scoring opportunity. A replay shows he was ball-watching when he clipped Olic's trailing leg and didn't foul the player intentionally.
54 min: Croatia win a throw-in deep in Brazil territory. The bal's pinged to Modric in space outside the penalty area, but his attempts to advance are halted by Neymar. The ball finds its way back to Julio Cesar, who launches it down the field. Croatia will need to build from the back again.
52 min: Perisic plays the ball to Modric in midfield and the Real Madrid creator then plays it wide to Srna on the right. Rakitic and Koacic are then brought into play, but Croatia make no ground. Their players are given little or no time to settle on the ball and advance due to the energetic attention of assorted Brazilian scurriers who are hell-bent on closing them down at the earliest opportunities.
49 min: More Brazil pressure, with Hulk cutting in from the right and attempting to pick out Fred with a pass that Corluka is forced to hack clear. Hulk gestures to his team-mate to work harder to get into scoring positions. Fred's barely had a touch of the ball so far.
48 min: Dani Alves gets forward, bombing up the right touchline with the ball at his feet. He sends in a cross, which Lovren heads clear.
Second half: No changes to either line-up as Brazil get the second half party started. The opening 90 seconds of the half kind of sums up the match in microcosm, with Brazil pressing relentlessly and energetically, while Croatia sit back and attempt to build from the back under extreme pressure.
An email from Richard Sillett: "Really nice to see a World Cup ball that flies straight," he writes. "All these long passes and crosses we're seeing must have something to do with having properly tested equipment." I don't know about that - perhaps the players are better than all those charlatans we saw poncing around the fields of South Africa. Whatever about the Brazuca v the Jabulani - I'll tell you what I don't miss: vuvuzelas.
Fair point, well made ...
An email from Philip West: "Neymar claimed to be unsighted in his yellow card incident but the replay showed that he clearly looked at Modric and then went in with an elbow to the throat," he says. Football, bloody hell.
I have just seen it again. Not a red card, in my opinion. I thought Neymar caught Modric in the throat with a raised forearm while the pair monitored the ball as it sailed overhead. A booking seemed fair enough to me.
An email from Matt Cast: "Nice strike from Neymar, problem is he shouldn't have been on the pitch to score it," he says. "That elbow was a clear red card."
Ah, I don't know if I agree with that. I thought he had his arm in Modric's face, but that it wasn't thuggish use of the elbow. I'll need to see it again, but my first impression was that only a very fussy referee would have issued a red card for that offence.
Half-time: Having played two minutes of added time, the referee brings the first half of the opening game of Brazil 2014. It's been a fascinating, intriguing match, with the hosts going ahead through an own goal off the right foot of Marcelo, before equalising through a long-range left-to-right effort from Neymar that went in off the foot off the right upright.
44 min: Olic loses the ball in space about five yards outside his own penalty area, getting robbed by Neymar as he attempted to turn in possession. Neymar skips into the Croatia penalty area, but fails to capitalise on Olic's hideous error. The relieved striker is subsequently given a thoroughly deserved rollocking by several team-mates.
41 min: Rakitic brings down Neymar just outside the Croatia penalty area. The defensive wall is formed and the referee marks out the 10 yards between it and the wall with a white line from the magic disappearing spray he's carrying in a holster around his waist. Neymar takes the free-kick; a poor effort which goes wide off the head of Rakitic. Nothing comes from the ensuing corner.
39 min: A good tackle from Vrsaijko, who goes to ground in the box to dispossess Hulk and break up a promising Brazil attack.
39 min: Croatia win a throw-in deep in the Brazil half. Vrsaijko chucks the ball to Kovacic, from where it wends its way to Rakitic, who loses it again, gifting Brazil an opportunity to counter-attack.
35 min: That goal seems to have settled Brazilian nerves. They're controlling the game now, allowing Croatia a fair bit of possession but keeping them at arm's length for the time being.
31 min: As Brazil celebrated their equaliser over by the dug-out, Croatia staged a lengthy inquest into the woeful play that allowed their hosts to score. Rakitic was one of three or four Croatia players around the ball in midfield, who let - I think - Oscar rob possession and wriggle clear before feeding Neymar, who galloped 10 or 15 yards forward before unleashing his shot. He didn't strike the ball particularly powerfully, but his accuracy was unerring. Croatia will feel aggrieved that he was even on the pitch, as he could conceivably have been sent off for the offence against Modric a few moments previously.
GOAL! Brazil 1-1 Croatia (Neymar 28)
Neymar restores parity for his team, winning the ball in midfield and surging forward before unleashing a low drive from distance. The ball fizzes through a pair of Croatian legs, beyond the outstretched fingertips of the diving Pletikosa and creeps just inside the right upright. It's all square in Sao Paulo.
26 min: Neymar picks up the first yellow card of the tournament for playing fast and loose with his arm or elbow in an aeriel tussle with Luka Modric, who goes to ground holding the back of his head. There's a mini-stramash involving about 10 players as assorted Croatians attempt to exact retribution after rushing to the defence of their midfielder.
23 min: Sloppy play from Rakitic in defence, who allows Neymar to jink his way around him down by the bye-line and then pull back a cross to the edge of the six-yard box. He fails to pick out a team-mate to fire the ball into the gaping goal, but the ball eventually finds its way to Oscar, who brings a decent save out of Pletikosa with a left-footed drive through a thicket of bodies from the edge of the penalty area.
19 min: Dani Alves crosses from the right touchline, down by the corner flag. Croatia skipper Dario Srna attempts to clear, but scuffs his effort out for a throw-in at the far side. Moments previously, Paulinho had brought a smart save out of Pltikosa with a fierce diagonal drive from about 12 yards after powering his way into the box.
19 min: Dani Alves, who is not having one of his better games in defence, attempts to usher the ball out of play, only for Perisic to nip in behind him and attempt to hook in a cross before the ball rolls out of play. His effort is successful, but there's nobody in a Croatia shirt around to capitalise on his endeavour. Shoddy defending from the Brazilian full-back there.
16 min: Oscar floats a wonderful cross from deep to the far post of Pletikosa's goal, but it's a mite too high for both Neymar and Fred, who both contort their bodies acrobatically in a bid to connect with the ball before it goes out of play.
15 min: Croatia continue to give Brazil plenty to think about. This time it's Mateo Kovacic who drives into space and plays the ball to Olic, the veteran who seems to be doing the work of two or three men in these early stages. He appears to be fouled on the edge of the penalty area, but the referee ignores his appeals for a free-kick and waves play on.
13 min: Well, well, well ... who saw this coming? And more importantly, how will Brazil and their supporters react. Marcelo was rather unlucky there - he was unsighted as the ball rolled his way in the wake of Jelavic's miscue and couldn't really do much about the ball clanging goalwards off his foot.
GOAL! Brazil 0-1 Croatia (Marcelo 11og)
A disaster for Brazil, who go behind in the opening game of their own World Cup. Ivan Rakitic drove forward and played the ball wide to Olic, who drilled in a low cross from the flank. Nikica Jelavic scuffed his shot as he tried to get in front of Thiago Silva and the ball rolled on to the hapless Marcelo, who accidentally shinned it past the hopelessly wrong-footed Julio Cesar and into his own net.
10 min: A corner for Brazil, which Neymar takes from the left. THe referee orders it to be retaken after having words with several players for pushing and pulling in the penalty area as they awaited the delivery. Neymar sends the ball into the area for a second time and Ivan Perisic clears.
7 min: Ivica Olic goes close with the best chance of the match thus far. Leaping high at the far post to get on the end of a cross from the right from Ivan Perisic, he beats Dani Alves in the air and powersw a decent downward header narrowly wide of the upright. Good effort, although he probably should have scored.
6 min: The ball's sent into the mixer - an outswinger to the far post from Marcelo. Thiago Silva leaps highest and heads the ball back across the face of goal, where David Luiz gets a touch on it, but not enough of one to trouble Stipe Pleticosa in the Croatia goal.
5 min: Vedran Corluka concedes a free-kick in a dangerous position after bundling over Hulk. David Luiz and Thiago Silva arrive into the Croatia penalty area as Neymar and Marcelo stand over the ball out on the left touchline.
3 min: Brazil are dominating possession in the early stages, but Ivica Olic mugs Dani Alves in possession beats Thiago Silva and sends in a cross from deep on the left flank. David Luiz leaps to clear. A nervy moment for Brazil, there.
2 min: Dani Aves sends in his first cross of the tournament, galloping up the right wing and swinging the ball into the penalty area, where Dejan Lovren clears with a meaty header.
Brazil 2014 is underway. At long last, the time for waiting is over and the football has started. Croatia get the ball rolling at this tournament, kicking off and playing from right to left.
What's all this now? The players of both teams line up around the the edge of centre-circle as three children holding doves walk out to the centre-spot and release their birds into the evening air. Needless to say, this is a Fifa initiative. For the love of all that's good and holy, how much more of this guff must we put up with?
Not long now: With each player placing his right hand on the shoulder of the player in front of him, the footballers of Brazil march out alongside their Croatian counterparts in single file. The Japanese referee removes the match Brazuca from the Fifa-approved plinth and the teams line up either side of the match officials.
Croatia's anthem is first up and the players, wearing their customare red and white checked shirts and white shorts. Brazil's anthem is next. Their players, kitted out in yellow shirts and blue shorts, belt it out. When the music stops, they and their supporters sing a second verse just to be on the safe side. Their rendition concludes with a frenzied roar from players and fans alike.
The teams are in the tunnel: If you took the ludicrous 2-1 against Brazil wearing yellow shirts in their opening game that was on offer from a certain bookmaker trying to drum up business, you can go and collect. I've just seen Marcelo zip up his blue tracksuit top and the shirt underneath it is reassuringly canary yellow.
A little over 10 minutes to go before kick-off: Why not test your knowledge on Brazil and Croatia with our fiendishly difficult quiz.
A minor scare there for Brazil: During the warm-up, Neymar turned on his left ankle and went to ground grimacing from the pain as a nation gasped in horror. A physio dutifully ran on to the pitch to look after him and he seems to be OK.
ITV's coverage: That's what I'm watching tonight. Adrian Chiles is anchoring it in a studio overlooking the Copacabana beach in Rio, in the company of French World Cup winner Patrick Vieira, Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro and Lee Dixon.
They're occasionally handing over to court jester Ian Wright, who is down on the beach with Glenn Hoddle and Gordon Strachan, both of whom are wearing sunglasses. Meanwhile in Sao Paulo, Matt Smith is conducting interviews with assorted members of the good and the great, including Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, who is part of ITV's team for the tournament. I'm also reliably informed that on RTE's coverage in Ireland, pundit and professional contrarian Eamon Dunphy has already promised to turn up wearing a dress should England make it to the quarter-finals. Never before will so many Irish people have been wishing an England football team success in their efforts to make the last eight.
Team news we've pulled from the news wires. Brazil will begin the World Cup with the same starting lineup that won last year's Confederations Cup. Led by Neymar in attack and Thiago Silva on defense, Luiz Felipe Scolari announced a starting lineup without any surprises for the team's opener against Croatia. Croatia is led by Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric but won't be at full strength. Coach Niko Kovac can't count on Bayern Munich forward Mario Mandzukic, who was red-carded in the team's final qualifier. Just before the tournament he also lost experienced midfielder Niko Kranjcar, and defender Josip Simunic didn't make it to the World Cup after being handed a 10-match ban by FIFA for leading fans in a pro-Nazi chant after a qualifying match. The two Brazilian-born players in Croatia's squad, Eduardo Silva and Sammir, will start on the bench.
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho, Oscar, Neymar, Hulk, Fred.
Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa, Sime Vrsaljko, Darijo Srna, Dejan Lovren, Vedran Corluka, Ivan Rakitic, Nikica Jelavic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Ivica Olic, Mateo Kovacic.
I was sold a bit of a pup there. One of the team line-ups I plagiarised from Twitter had Marcelo Brozovic in the Croatia line-up, but I've just seen a photo of the official team-sheet and Mateo Kovacic is one of three playmakers in their midfield alongside Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic.
A century of the Seleçao This video stars Brazil striker Fred and Fernando Duarte of Football Weekly fame, among others, and is well worth five minutes and nine seconds of anyone's time. Enjoy.
The Guardian World Cup Show is here: The very first episode is now available. Nat Coombs presents all of the news from the lead-up to the World Cup kick-off, in a show that also features footage off Jonathan Wilson moaning about how terrible everything is from a media centre in Brazil. Subscribe to the Guardian Football YouTube channel to catch all future episodes.
Croatia tactics: "There are few nations that love playmakers as much as Croatia," writes Michael in his pre-tournament assessment. "And national team coach Niko Kovac appears set to field three together in a highly creative midfield trio." Fitness permitting, the trio in question will be Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mateo Kovacic and their manager hasalready scoffed at the notion that his team will "park the bus" against Brazil or anyone else. Michael says Cratia will play a 4-2-3-1. although the midfield triangle could be flipped. He says their strength is that they can "dominate the ball against anyone", while their weakness is a "lack of pace and poor positioning at the back".
Brazil tactics: You can get the full low-down on what Guardian tactics expert Michael Cox expects from Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil in this tournament by clicking on this link, but in summary he says they're expected to win this tournament after two disappointing quarter-final exits in 2010 and 2006.
If they are to do so, says Michael, it will be with the help of central midfielders that are "extremely basic and functional", full-backs that "bomb on" and attackers who "combine nicely". He goes on to say that this is "the most ‘European’ side Brazil have ever taken to a World Cup: the shape is 4-2-3-1, the speed of transitions are very quick and the attackers work hard without the ball."
Croatia's national anthem: ABC frontman Martin Fry, who had a string of hits including Poison Arrow and the Look of Love back in the 1980s, did the honours for Croatia's anthem. Here's what he thought.
"Lyrically it’s an unapologetic heads up to the glory of the beautiful homeland," he says. "You wouldn’t expect anything less from a national anthem. With instructions to Drava to keep on flowing and the Danube to not lose it’s vigour. A real Croat love fest.
"What is surprising is the tune. Nothing prepares you for the brazen ferocity of the Croatian anthem. It sounds not unlike a child with a wooden spoon and a biscuit tin followed by a stern beating. Percussion supplied by dustbin lids on boots and sledgehammers. At least it’s mercifully short. It should fire up the team in Brazil. Anything less than victory and Luka Modric will be forced to listen to it repeatedly on the bus home."
"Brazil have a wonderfully jaunty national anthem that climbs up and down the scales with the agility of a young Jairzinho," he says. "Dating from 1822, its florid lines were never designed to be sung by 80,000 people in a massive stadium, so it is not unusual for the crowd and the music to fall out of sync.
"The opening line places us beside a stream in the vicinity of São Paulo and the lyrics make passing reference to a death-defying chest and the bosom of freedom. And unlike our own God Save the Queen, it does mention the name of their country, surely the bare minimum requirement of a national anthem."
Trouble in São Paulo. Far be it from me to harsh everyone's buzz on such an exciting occasion, but it's been well-documented that the build-up to this tournament has been less than peachy and earlier today,police fired teargas and flash grenades at a group of the country's many anti-World Cup protestors who were attempting to block part of the main highway leading to the stadium where the opening match of the tournament is being staged. Shasta Darlington, CNN's Brazil bureau chief, was injured in the disturbance and suffered a suspected broken arm. Here's hoping she has a speedy recovery.
Coh-mooh es-tah,everybody?! After an often troubled gestation period of seven years, the World Cup is finally – finally! – upon us and before the evening is out, football fans everywhere will have inked the first of 64 different international football results on to their currently pristine Brazil 2014 wallcharts.
The hosts take on Croatia at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo to get the Brazuca quite literally rolling and we'll have plenty of build-up and team news in the countdown to the Brazil 2014 kick-off. In the meantime, I can think of no better scene-setter to get the blood racing than this splendid piece on the Copa das Copas by Barney Ronay, who is in São Paulo for The Guardian.