Paulinho played for an hour as fortune favoured Brazil in their opening World Cup game when a controversial penalty award saw them recover from an early own goal to defeat Croatia.
After an emotional rendition of the national anthems when the passion was evident in every Brazilian player and fan, the World Cup didn’t start as Brazil had expected.
Kevin Davis tweeted,
That's patriotism and passion there. Julio Cesar in tears
— Kevin Davis (@KevlarDavis) June 12, 2014
Brazil dominated the early possession with Paulinho having a shot from distance blocked for a corner. Croatia hadn’t read the script and troubled Brazil on the counterattack, before going ahead with an own goal from Marcelo after 11 minutes. The Brazil left back inadvertently touched the ball into his own goal after a low cross from the left.
The own goal was met with mirth by Tottenham fans on Twitter who recalled Marcello’s part in the dismissal of Peter Crouch in the Champions League quarter-final tie in Madrid. Chris Fitzgerald tweeted,
Hahaha. Marcello OG. Good. Hate that cheating ******. Ever since he helped get Crouch sent off and laughed as he left the pitch.
Comparisons were inevitable between Tottenham’s midfielders past and present with both Luka Modric and Paulinho being heavily involved as Brazil pushed forward in search of an equaliser. A Paulinho shot was saved by the former Tottenham goalkeeper, Stipe Pletikosa, but the equaliser came after 29 minutes from Neymar.
James Bowers described Luka Modric as the “best midfielder on display” while James H commented on Paulinho saying, “Paulinho playing a more advanced role and seems to be playing well.”
Will Cummins tweeted on Paulinho,
Paulinho always plays class for Brazil.
Other Spurs fans noted the difference between Paulinho playing for Brazil and his performances for Tottenham. Jeff Maysh tweeted,
The real Paulinho is great! Not like his cousin the Brazilians flogged to Tottenham. He’s watching in a chip shop by Seven Sisters.
In the second half Brazil continued to dominate possession but without really threatening the Croatian goal. After 62 minutes Paulinho was replaced by Hernanes. The Tottenham midfielder’s performance was summed up by Shem Timothy who tweeted,
Paulinho made a few decent runs into the box but not much else. Hernanes supposedly to add some guile to the midfield.
With 20 minutes to play, Brazil were awarded a soft penalty when Dejan Lovren had his hands on Fred who went down easily. With the penalty, Pletikosa, guessed the direction of Neymar’s shot and got his hands to it but couldn’t keep it out of the net. Relief and joy enveloped the stadium, disappointment for Pletikosa and Croatia.
In added time Brazil broke and poor defending by Croatia enabled Oscar to secure victory for the host nation.
Summing up the game, Liam McIlnerny tweeted,
Brazil have had luck on their side tonight. Croatia will feel the referee has granted them no favours. Both should qualify from the group.
Looking at the performance of the players with Tottenham connections,
House of V tweeted on Luka Modric
Modric being given no space at all to dictate the game. Scolari tactics spot on. Muted Modric. Muted Croatia.
On Vedran Corluka playing in central defence, Big Tonne tweeted,
I can’t actually believe Corluka is playing at centre back for Croatia in a World Cup opener against Brazil. Was woeful at CB for us!
After impressing early on, Pletikosa who played only one game in his time with Spurs, would have been disappointed as he would have expected to have done better with all three of Brazil’s goals.
Brazil are on their way – expectations are high but on that performance the players will have to do a great deal better in coming games. The important thing for Brazil is that they won and if come mid-July, they win the World Cup, their good fortune in this win over Croatia will be long forgotten.