Hosts Brazil had to come from behind in Thursday’s opening game against Croatia to secure a comfortable 3-1 win and the full three points.
Marcelo of Brazil opened scoring for the Croatians with an own-goal within ten minutes of kick off but that did not deter the samba boys as they continued to play as if they were the ones who were a goal up.
The Croatians too, unable to believe their luck, were not deluded about their chances of beating Brazil after the freak goal as they pressed on for a possible second goal.
Neyma, who’s responsibility it is to wear Pele’s legendary No 10 jersey this time around, lived up to expectation as he provided Brazil with the much needed equaliser during the first half.
His first goal was a low, sweeping effort that crept into the net from 25 yards.
The contact was not pure but the shot was unerringly accurate, creeping in from 25 yards, glancing the right post on its way.
On the touchline Scolari was swamped by his players as all 23 Brazilian squad members rejoiced in the overwhelming sense of relief. Fireworks echoed in the streets around the ground.
The first half ended with a level scoreline, Brazil 1-1 Croatia.
Neyma’s second goal came in the second half via a penalty after Fred was fouled in the box.
Oscar cemented the result with a wonderful individual goal late on but the adulation at the Arena de Sao Paulo went to Barcelona’s Neymar.
It ensured a 10th consecutive win for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side but Brazil demonstrated flaws and fragilities. They did not play with the fluency or flamboyance that saw them swat aside Spain to win the Confederations Cup so emphatically last year.
Brazil are off and running.