Brazil get ball rolling in World Cup after a stuttering start

Home side grab opening night victory as protesters fail to mobilise

 Brazil fans celebrate before the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Brazil and Croatia at Arena de Sao Paulo, Brazil, last night. Photograph: Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Brazil fans celebrate before the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Brazil and Croatia at Arena de Sao Paulo, Brazil, last night. Photograph: Christopher Lee/Getty Images

 

Brazil’s World Cup got off to a stuttering start last night where least expected.

After all the problems during the build-up to the tournament the day ran relatively smoothly off the pitch but ended with the favourites relying on a soft penalty to get past Croatia in their group opening match.

The hosts found themselves behind early in the game and only went ahead after striker Fred went down in the 70th minute after under the faintest of touches. Neymar scored from the resulting penalty and with Croatia pushing for an equaliser Oscar scored late on the break to complete a nervy 3-1 victory.

Croatia showed up clearly unwilling to play its’ appointed role as this opening ceremony’s sacrificial goat. A break in the 11th minute and a dangerous ball across Brazil’s box and suddenly they were 1-0 up thanks to the unfortunate Marcelo’s own goal.

Shortly afterwards part of the stadium’s lighting failed as dusk gathered and all the off-field problems during the tournament’s build-up threatened to spill over onto the pitch.

But the reaction from the normally fickle São Paulo crowd was exemplary.

Behind the players

Less than a week ago the city’s fans whistled the team for failing to score after 15 minutes against Serbia in the their last warm-up game. Here they got behind the players, driving them on.

They were rewarded in the 29th minute goal with a brilliant goal from the team’s undisputed star Neymar.

From just outside the box he placed a beautiful shot in off the right post past the despairing dive of Stipe Pletikosa. The relief that coursed through the crowd was palpable.

Earlier the month-long tournament kicked off with a rather modest opening ceremony for the land of carnival. The day saw protests in several host cities across Brazil by groups opposed to the billions of euro in public money spent on preparing for the tournament.

But in contrast to the Confederations Cup last year they failed to mobilise large numbers.

In São Paulo police clashed with demonstrators at one of the main roads linking the centre of the city to the stadium before the game.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.