Hosts Brazil opened the FIFA World Cup with a 3-1 victory against Croatia, though they were made to sweat in Sao Paulo.
The five-time winners, staging the tournament for the first time since 1950, suffered a scare when they went behind to a Marcelo own goal after just 11 minutes. Neymar then came to the fore on his 50th cap, scoring his 32nd and 33rd international goals – the second a penalty – before Oscar's late finish rubber-stamped victory in Group A.
Though Luiz Felipe Scolari's team were superior in possession from the off, Croatia had the better of the early chances. Ivica Olić's header went narrowly off target after seven minutes, but the VfL Wolfsburg man was celebrating with his team-mates soon after when his low cross from the left was inadvertently turned in by Marcelo after Nikica Jelavić had miscued his shot.
Brazil started to find their feet midway through the first half, however, and nearly drew level through Oscar's bending effort from outside the penalty area. Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa was up to the task on that occasion, but could do nothing to keep out Neymar's precise shot just before the half-hour.
Brazil looked short of ideas after the interval – only Daniel Alves's long-range free-kick had caused Pletikosa any degree of alarm – until Dejan Lovren was adjudged to have brought down Fred in the box. Neymar made no mistake with his spot kick, albeit via the palms of Croatia's No1.
The FC Barcelona youngster would most likely have had his hat-trick had David Luiz allowed Oscar's vicious cross to fall his way rather than launching himself at the ball only to head off target. It mattered not, though, for the Chelsea FC midfielder's impish effort in added time ensured three points for the Seleção. On Tuesday they take on a Mexico team that also opened their campaign with victory, with Croatia up against Cameroon on Wednesday.
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|12||Júlio César (GK)||1||Stipe Pletikosa (GK)|
|2||Daniel Alves||2||Šime Vrsaljko|
|3||Thiago Silva (C)||4||Ivan Perišić|
|4||David Luiz||5||Vedran Ćorluka|
|11||Darijo Srna (C)|
|1||Jefferson (GK)||12||Oliver Zelenika (GK)|
|22||Victor (GK)||23||Danijel Subašić (GK)|
|Luiz Felipe Scolari (BRA)||Niko Kovač (CRO)|
|Yuichi Nishimura (JPN)|
|Toru Sagara (JPN), ()|
|Alireza Faghani (IRN)|