Star-studded Brazil looked like they were on their way to a stroll in the park in their Group C opener against Egypt, but they were made to suffer in the second half before finally recorded a 3-2 win. The contest, played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, was a tale of two halves, Brazil dominating the first and Egypt surging in the second.
Brazil wasted no time stamping their authority on the contest with Oscar, Hulk, Leandro Damião and Neymar combining to great effect in the attacking third. It took only 16 minutes for the South American champions to register a goal. Rafael combined with Oscar before the Manchester United man cut across the area and fired a low shot into the corner of the net.
The score was doubled ten minutes after the opener when a long lob eluded the entire Egyptian defence and landed at the feet of the lively Oscar, who has just completed a move to English giants Chelsea. He rounded goalkeeper Ahmed El Shenawi and then crossed low for Leandro Damião, who had the simplest of tap-ins with the goal at his mercy.
Neymar, one of the pre-tournament players to watch, got himself on the scoresheet in the 30th minute. He raced up the field with the ball, eluding defenders left and right, before laying it out wide for Hulk. The Santos ace was rewarded for his impressive approach work, heading home an inch-perfect cross from close range.
The Egyptians threw themselves a lifeline early in the second half as senior team hero Mohamed Aboutrika took advantage of a scramble in front of the Brazilian goal, banging the ball home after it rebounded off the post. With the score 3-1, the Egyptians began to pull themselves back into the game. Five minutes after Aboutrika’s strike, Mohamed Salah was gifted the ball from Real Madrid star defender Marcelo, but he hesitated in front of goal and his effort was snuffed out by the retreating rearguard.
Salah made amends in the 76th minute, writhing and wriggling at the edge of the box before curling the ball into the side-netting with his left foot. The goal set up an enthralling finish, but in the end Brazil were able to hang on to their three-point haul. The Brazilians will next meet Belarus on 29 July in Manchester, while Egypt take on New Zealand.