National Teams

World Cup opening match

Croatia takes the
lead, Brazil
celebrates the win

Croatia takes the lead, Brazil celebrates the win
photo by: HNS
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In the World Cup opening match, Croatia managed to take the lead, but Brazil bagged all three points.

BRAZIL - CROATIA 3:1 (1:1)
World Cup, Group A.
Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo.

Referee: Yuichi Nishimura (Japan)

Goalscorers: 0:1 - Marcelo (11' - og), 1:1 - Neymar (29'), 2:1 - Neymar (71' - 11m), 3:1 - Oscar (90+1')

Yellow cards: Neymar (27'), Ćorluka (66'), Lovren (70'), Luiz Gustavo (88')

Brazil: Julio Cesar, Marcelo, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves, Paulinho (63' Hernanes), Luiz Gustavo, Willian, Neymar (88' Ramires), Hulk (68' Bernard), Fred. Head coach: L. Scolari.

Croatia: Pletikosa, Vrsaljko, Ćorluka, Lovren, Srna, Modrić, Rakitić, Perišić, Kovačić (61' Brozović), Olić, Jelavić (78' Rebić). Head coach: N. Kovač.

The World Cup opening ceremony and the opening match Brazil - Croatia was hosted by the city of Sao Paulo on 12 June.

Croatia drew first blood. After Kovačić and Olić missed opportunities, Olić sent a low cross from the left in the 11th minute, and Jelavić's touch made Marcelo put the ball into his own net.

However, Brazil stepped up and Croatian goalkeeper Pletikosa was called into action to stop Paulinho and Oscar. In 29th minute, Neymar took a low shot from outside of the box, with the ball hitting the post and ending in the Croatian net.

Hulk also had an opportunity just before halftime, but at the break the score stayed level.

Brazil had the upper hand in the opening minutes of the second half as well, but Croatia managed to slowly balance the match, only to fall behind in the 71st minute. Referee showed to the penalty spot after Lovren - Fred duel, and Neymar's effort made it 2:1, even though Pletikosa guessed right.

Niko Kovač's men were in search of an equalizer in the final minutes, but Modrić, Ćorluka and Perišić could not find the target.

Oscar sealed the victory for the Brazilians in the first minute of added time, while Croatia turns to Cameroon and Mexico matches.

12.06.2014.. Spectators: 62103
Referees: Yuichi Nishimura (JPN), Toru Sagara (JPN), Toshiyuki Nagi (JPN)
Fourth referee: Alireza Faghani (IRN)
12Julio Cesar1Stipe Pletikosa
2Dani Alves18Ivica Olić
3Thiago Silva7Ivan Rakitić
4David Luiz10Luka Modrić
20Mateo Kovačić
5Vedran Ćorluka
2Šime Vrsaljko
9Fred6Dejan Lovren
4Ivan Perišić
9Nikica Jelavić
17Luis Gustavo
11Darijo Srna
1Jefferson12Oliver Zelenika
22Victor23Danijel Subašić
5Fernandinho3Danijel Pranjić
13Dante16Ante Rebić
14Maxwell8Ognjen Vukojević
15Henrique22Eduardo Alves Da Silva
21Domagoj Vida
14Marcelo Brozović
19Willian19Jorge Sammir Cruz Campos
13Gordon Schildenfeld
Luiz Felipe ScolariNiko Kovač

On Thursday, Arena de Sao Paulo will host the opening match of the World Cup, with Brazil and Croatia playing in front of the worldwide auditorium.

Brazil - Croatia
World Cup, Group A
12 June 2014, 17:00 (22:00 Croatian time)
Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo.

After months of preparation, the World Cup is about to begin, with Croatian national football team having the privilege to open the tournament against the ambitious hosts.

Croatia secured World Cup berth finishing second to Belgium in the qualifying group, and winning the play-offs against Iceland 2:0 on aggregate. In the subsequent international friendlies, Croatia drew 2:2 with Switzerland while beating Mali (2:1) and Australia (1:0).

"The preparations have been done with utmost seriousness in order to avoid surprises. In this historic match, we will not give up, an I can assure you that Croatian will be proud", said Croatia head coach Niko Kovač after finishing a series of strenuous practice sessions in Bad Tatzmannsdorf, Austria and Tivoli Ecoresort base camp in Brazil.

Sent off against Iceland, Mario Mandžukić is suspended for the opening match, and Šime Vrsaljko will cover the left-back position with Danijel Pranjić ruled out through injury.

Brazil is one of the favourites to win the World Cup title, and backed by home crowd, this match presents a great challenge for Croatia. One that captain Darijo Srna and his teammates welcome:

"It is a great day to open the World Cup against Brazil, I believe that all Croatians will enjoy that. We are playing one of the best teams in the world, but in football, the better team does not always win. Miracles are possible, and I can promise that each and every player will fight and give all that we have".

The referee Yuichi Nichimura comes from Japan.

In Group A, Croatia will later play Cameroon in Manaus and Mexico in Recife.

foto: HNS