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WORLD CUP: Brazil 3-1 Croatia - Coventry City assistant manager Neil MacFarlane gives his verdict

13 June 2014

The Sky Blues assistant manager believes Oscar was the man of the match and Brazil will top Group A...

The host nation Brazil kicked off this summer's tournament with a 3-1 win over Croatia. An early own goal from Marcelo gave the underdogs Croatia the lead, before a brace from Neymar and an Oscar strike rounded off the victory for the hosts.

Coventry City assistant manager Neil MacFarlane gave his verdict:

It was a great game first and foremost, and while Brazil dominated the ball they were probably fortunate to win the game. Apart from the first 15 minutes, they retained the ball well and obviously got lucky with the penalty at a key moment in the game.

It was a shock when Croatia took the lead, Brazil left a lot of space at full-back, particularly the left hand side, and that's where Olic's cross came from. Jelavic made the run and it bundled in off Marcelo, but they acquitted themselves brilliantly in such a high pressure game in that environment.

Neymar and Oscar were hugely influential for Brazil, and I don't think Neymar's incident was a red card. It merited a yellow card, and then when they got the equaliser they looked more assured. When they got into the wide areas their delivery was excellent, particularly Oscar from the right, and that was probably their most convincing threat.

Brazil were definitely fortunate with the penalty, we all know it's not a penalty. The keeper has got a huge hand to it, and he'll be disappointed he didn't save it. When Neymar stuttered, there was only one way he was going in my opinion, it's always an uneasy run up. Pletikosa was also caught out for the third goal, while Oscar was clever to take it early, he should be doing better, he didn't look set.

But that's a sign of a good team who take their luck and win without being convincing. Croatia were extremely unlucky and, as I said before, were brilliant considering the pressure of playing the host nation. Brazil were lucky, but those are the margins at the highest level.

Performance rating: 

Brazil 6 / Croatia 7

Man of the match: Oscar - the Chelsea man was excellent throughout, particularly having changed position early on. But his delivery from the right and his penetrative runs were a threat to Croatia all evening.

Prospects: Brazil stuttered but still managed to get the three points, and are in pole position to top Group A. Croatia impressed and will be confident of securing second place with upcoming games against Mexico and Cameroon. 

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