Neymar Powers Host Brazil Past Croatia in World Cup Opener
(SAO PAULO, Brazil) -- Neymar scored two goals, including the go-ahead tally in the 71st minute, leading host nation Brazil to a 3-1 opening win over Croatia in the first match of the 2014 World Cup. The go-ahead goal came on a penalty kick after a much debated call from the referee.
Croatia held a lead in the first half when Ivica Olic crossed the ball into the penalty area. There it was deflected off the foot of Nikica Jelavicbefore knocking off Marcelo and rolling into the net for a goal. The host team did not panic, constantly looking for the equalizer.
Oscar looked to have the first goal of the tournament from Brazil, but a diving save from Stipe Pletikosa kept the Brazilians off the board. Finally, in the 29th minute, Neymar connected on a strike from 20 yards out sending the crowd into a frenzy.
The score remained deadlocked at 1-1 until Fred drew a controversial penalty in the box in the 71st minute. That set up Neymar who stutter-stepped before blasting a shot off the hands of Pletikosa. Brazil added another goal in stoppage thanks to Oscar.
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