13 Jun 2014

Neymar double gives jittery Brazil winning start

11:02 am on 13 June 2014

Star striker Neymar wasted little time in living up to his billing as Brazil's football World Cup spearhead when he scored twice to lead the host nation to a 3-1 comeback victory over Croatia in the opening game of the tournament in Sao Paulo.

Brazil had fallen behind in the 11th minute when Marcelo diverted a low cross into his own net as Croatia played some neat attacking football, but the hosts levelled after 29 minutes when Neymar marked his 50th appearance by squeezing a shot from the edge of the box just inside the post.

Brazil gradually took control of the Group A game after the break and went ahead when Neymar converted a controversial 71st-minute penalty given when Fred went down in the box under the slightest of pressure from Dejan Lovren.

Croatia pressed strongly in the final 15 minutes, but Brazil held out and finished on a high when Oscar poked home the third in stoppage time to start a party their fans hope will end with victory in the final on July 13.