Brazil overcome a stubborn North Korean side in Johannesburg.
Brazil 2-1 North Korea
FIFA World Cup 2010 Group G
Tuesday 15 June
Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg
Stunning goals from Maicon and Elano got Brazil’s World Cup campaign off to a winning start – but only after they were given the fright of their lives by North Korea.
Dunga’s Samba Stars struggled for any sort of rhythm in the first-half but after going two goals ahead they seemed to have settled into the groove.
But they had not counted on Kim Jong-Hun’s side coming back at them again, and after Ji Yun-Nam’s superb solo effort they were left to hang on at the end.
The talk before the game was about how many goals Brazil would win by - yet those who arrived at Ellis Park expecting a walkover were to be sorely disappointed.
North Korea immediately proved themselves to be an extremely well organised side, with lone striker Jong Tae-Se a fine outlet.
While he kept Brazilian centre-backs Lucio and Juan busy the remainder of his team, led by captain Hong Yong-Jo, defended valiantly.
And the five-time champions struggled to create a chance worthy of the name in the opening 45 minutes.
North Korean goalkeeper Ri Myong-Guk simply watched a succession of long-range efforts fly past his goal as, against all expectations, the game reached half-time without a goal having been scored.
Yet that all changed ten minutes after the interval thanks to Inter Milan full-back Maicon.
Elano was the instigator, delaying his pass before playing Maicon in on the right – from where the defender shocked everyone by swerving a vicious effort inside Ri Myong-Guk’s near post and into the far corner.
It was a superb effort, and one which showed the Selecao at their very best.
Michel Bastos and Luis Fabiano came close in the next ten minutes, but Brazil’s second goal was well worth waiting for.
Robinho, who had been Brazil’s outstanding player throughout the match, made the goal with a stunning, inch-perfect pass inside the full-back to Elano, who simply passed the ball first-time into the far corner.
That seemed to have ended North Korea’s challenge in their first World Cup since 1966, but Ji Yun-Nam brought his side right back into the game as he strolled past Lucio to lash home left-footed with two minutes left.
Brazil held out, but in truth it was North Korea’s night and Dunga will have much to ponder. Brazil
1 Julio Cesar, 2 Maicon, 3 Lucio (C), 4 Juan, 6 Michel Bastos, 5 Felipe Melo (18 Ramires, 84), 7 Elano (13 Daniel, 73), 8 Gilberto Silva, 10 Kaka (21 Nilmar, 78), 9 Luis Fabiano, 11 RobinhoSubs not used
12 Gomes, 22 Doni, 14 Luisao, 15 Thiago Silva, 16 Gilberto, 17 Josue, 18 Ramires, 19 Julio Baptista, 20 Kleberson, 23 Grafite Goals
Maicon 55, Elano 72 North Korea
1 Myong-Guk Ri, 2 Jong-Hyok Cha, 3 Jun-Il Ri, 5 Kwang-Chon Ri, 13 Chol-Jin Pak, 4 Nam-C Pak, 8 Yun-Nam Ji, 11 In-Guk Mun (6 K-I Kim, 80), 17 Yong-Hak Ahn, 9 Tae-Se Jong, 10 Yong-Jo Hong (C)Subs not used
18 Myong-Gil Kim, 20 Myong-Won Kim, 14 Nam-Chol Pak, 16 Song-Chol Nam, 21 Kwang-Hyok Ri, 15 Yong-Jun Kim, 19 Chol-Myong Ri, 22 Kyong-Il Kim, 23 Sung Hyok Pak, 7 Chol-Hyok An, 12 Kum-Chol Choe Goal
Ji Yun-Nam 89 Referee
Viktor Kassai (Hungary)