By Alan Duffy
Brazil 3-1 Croatia – World Cup Group A – 12th June 2014
Drop Dead Fred – Brazil striker’s clever tribute to Rik Mayall
Brazil secured a winning start to the 2014 World Cup finals but their win was anything but easy. Croatia, with a rather creative midfield trio of Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, made things difficult for the hosts and eventually opened the scoring themselves, after the impressive Ivica Olic saw his centre deflected into the Brazil net by Marcelo.
Oscar, playing on the right, was the pick of the samba stars and the Chelsea had a hand in Neymar’s equaliser on the half-hour mark. And after the break, it was the Barca forward who would put his side ahead, but only after a very dodgy decision by ref Yuichi Nishimura which saw Fred win a penalty after the lightest of touches from Dejan Lovren. Neymar’s spot-kick, despite the intricate run-up, was poor but Stipe Pletikosa made a hash of the save.
Croatia continued to threaten and looked to have scored only for the rather busy ref to blow-up for a questionable foul on Julio Cesar by Olic. Soon after, Oscar sealed the deal with a fabulous toe-poke into the corner and that was that.
Not a classic display by the home side at all, with arguably only Luis Gustavo and Oscar really shining. Niko Kovac’s Croats will no doubt take heart from a good display which will stand them in good stead for their upcoming clashes with Cameroon and Mexico.