A STAGGERING own goal kicked-off the 2014 Brazil World Cup as Brazil beat Croatia 3-1 after a pair of controversial decisions.
Festivities began as Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull put on a colourful opening ceremony to a backdrop of protests and riots outside.
The first ten minutes of the match was punctuated by Marcelo scoring an own goal as Croatia bore down on defenders through early pressure.
A brief breather later and Brazil came back with the Samba-like ball skills for which they're known and by the 24th minute had an amazing 77% possession stat.
24 minutes into the match and Neymar is shown yellow after his arm caught Olic in the face.
After some nerve-racking free kicks Brazil finally equalised in the 27th minute with the boy wonder Neymar slicing his way through the defence to get within range for his shot.
The teams went into half-time level with some interesting calls from the ref and all eyes on Neymar as Brazil's favourite weapon and Croatia's deadliest target. Online the question seemed to be, should the boy wonder have been sent off instead of just yellow-carded.
The second half started quietly but an Olic incursion into the box saw him clopped by Dani Alves, resulting in a penalty shout waved down by the ref. If it had gone through it would have been an instant red card for Alves.
A penalty in the 67th minute put Neymar back into range of the net, an opportunity he used to devastating effect, putting Brazil up 2-1 and sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Croatia came close to equalising in the 82nd minute but the ref called foul for an Olic bump to Cesar. The ball did find the net but it was disallowed as being after the knock down.
Brazil weathered a renewed attack from an angered Croatia to counter-attack into a 3-1 lead from a goal from Chelsea's Oscar that saw them out to the final siren.
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