Hero Neymar comes to Brazil's aid
A lot was expected from Brazil forward Neymar and boy, he matched expectations and how!
The 22-year-old came up with a man-of-the-match performance to rescue the hosts after an early blunder as Brazil won 3-1 on Thursday.
Brazil fell behind after 11 minutes through Marcelo's own goal but Neymar led the comeback, scoring with a left-footed shot from outside the area and then with a controversial penalty awarded by Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura.
Following the victory, Neymar said the win was "more than I ever dreamed or imagined. The merit belongs to the team as a whole, which remained cool and calm to come from behind and win."
Image: Neymar of Brazil controls the ball as Ivan Perisic of Croatia looks on Thursday
Photographs: Buda Mendes/Getty Images
'His responsibility is to play for Brazil, and that's what he did today'
Meanwhile Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari had words of praise for his ace ward, who is under tremendous pressure as local fans expect their team to deliver the country's first World Cup title on home soil.
"The only thing we want is that Neymar is happy playing ball. He's a special player," Scolari told reporters after the win gave Brazil a great start in their bid for a record-extending sixth World Cup title.
"He (Neymar) doesn't need all of you (the media) to demand that he become the best player in the world. His responsibility is to play for Brazil, and that's what he did today," Scolari added.
Image: Neymar of Brazil receives the man of the match during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Brazil and Croatia at Arena de Sao Paulo on Thursday
Photographs: Adam Pretty/Getty Images