Brazil's class enough to see off industrious North Koreans

Brazil 2 North Korea 1

Brazil began their quest for a sixth world crown with victory over North Korea at Ellis Park but it was far from a vintage display from Dunga's men against hard-working opposition.

The Koreans, ranked 85th in the world, kept Brazil at bay for 55 minutes until Maicon's cross-cum-shot swerved in at the near post and the three points were assured by a rare moment of magic as Robinho laid a second goal on a plate for former Manchester City team-mate Elano, although Ji Yun-nam gave them a late scare by halving the deficit.

The win took Brazil top of Group G, above Portugal and the Ivory Coast, but they did not look particularly convincing in living up to their tag of joint World Cup favourites alongside Spain.

The North Koreans were the first to have a shot on target after 10 minutes when Japan-born striker Jong Tae-se bustled past two markers and drilled in a left-footed shot which Julio Cesar was able to gather.

Brazil were dominating possession but struggling to pick the final pass and the Koreans were not purely sitting back as Cha Jong-hyok got forward to blast a left-footed shot wide after 15 minutes.

The South Americans threatened when Luis Fabiano slotted the ball through to Robinho in the box. The forward, on loan at Santos from Manchester City, was able to make room for a shot but North Korea goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk got well behind it.

The lack of genuine width seemed to be causing Brazil problems as North Korea's five-man defence ganged up on Kaka, Luis Fabiano, Robinho and Elano in a congested attacking third and Kim Jong-hun's team were content to burst forward in small numbers on the break.

Goalkeeper Ri parried away a Maicon drive at his near post in the 28th minute which was Brazil's best effort up to that point.

The North Koreans were making a fight of it and, following a corner, Pak Chol-jin cut the ball back from the right to Ri Kwang-chon but the defender scuffed a presentable shooting chance wide from 25 yards.

Not much was going Brazil's way as Michel Bastos' shot deflected off Pak Chol-jin and looped over the crossbar with Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai wrongly awarding a goal-kick, and Ri Kwang-chon made a vital header clear under pressure from Luis Fabiano as the half ended goalless, against all the odds.

The second half started in much the same vein as the first had ended as North Korea, to borrow Jose Mourinho's phrase, "parked the bus" on the edge of the box and Brazil struggled to find a way through.

Michel Bastos blasted a free-kick wide from just outside the box in the 51st minute after Pak Chol-jin was penalised for a foul on Kaka. The Real Madrid star then chested the ball down for Robinho to shoot from 26 yards but his right-footed effort was again wayward.

The goal finally came on 55 minutes when Elano played the ball into the box for the overlapping Maicon and his shot beat Ri at the near post, with the goalkeeper seemingly expecting the Inter Milan full-back to cut the ball back rather than shoot.

Ri fisted clear another long-range drive from Michel Bastos and, as North Korea committed more men forward, they left gaps. On one counter-attack Robinho found Luis Fabiano, who beat defender Ri Jun-il in the box but blasted a left-footed shot over.

Brazil added a second in the 72nd minute and it was a thing of beauty as Robinho slipped a perfect through-ball to Elano advancing into the box on the right and the Galatasaray man made no mistake with a cool side-footed finish. The goalscorer was immediately substituted, with Dani Alves coming on.

Villarreal forward Nilmar, on for Kaka, drove in a right-footed shot which Ri gathered at the second attempt with 12 minutes left and he also had to field a Felipe Melo effort shortly afterwards.

Juan had to make a last-ditch tackle to deny Jong a late chance and Ji then burst through to score, sparking a wild celebration, although the points remained with Brazil.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Proust as Captain Laure Berthaud in 'Spiral'
tvReview: Gritty, engaging and well-acted - it’s a wonder France’s biggest TV export isn’t broadcast on a more mainstream channel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Carmichael in still from Madam Bovary trailer
film
News
i100
Sport
Serena Williams holds the Australian Open title
sportAustralia Open 2015 final report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing