Five-times world champions
Brazil struggled over long stretches against a stingy North Korea defence before collecting a 2-1 victory in their Group G opener on Tuesday at Ellis Park Stadium, dpa reported.
Inter Milan defender Maicon was named Man of the Match after opening the scoring in the 55th minute and Elano doubled the advantage in the 72nd as Brazil jumped atop the group with their win in Johannesburg. Ji Yun Nam scored a consolation goal in the 89th minute for the North Koreans, who were making their second World Cup appearance.
Portugal and Ivory Coast had played to a 0-0 draw earlier in the day in the other Group G match.
The night game in cold Johannesburg marked the return of North Korea to the World Cup for the first time since 1966, when they shocked Italy in reaching the quarter-finals. The 44-year absence was the fourth longest in World Cup history - bested only by the 56-year droughts of Egypt and Norway and Turkey's 48 years without a finals showing.
The South American giants controlled the match early and the first chance went to Galatasaray midfielder Elano, who shot wide left after seven minutes. Dunga's men however were unable to work through the stingy North Korea defence. And the Asians eventually began winning a bit of possession. Defender Cha Jong Hyok ventured forward at the 17-minute mark and shot well wide left. But it showed that the North Koreans were not afraid to push forward if they have an opportunity. The Brazilians continued to have their problems with coach Kim Jong Hun's compact backfield, which gave even more confidence to the North Koreans.
The Asians had the first corner of the contest in the 32nd minute and enjoyed better build-up though they lacked the precision with the final pass. Brazil's first dangerous attempt came two minutes later with Michel Bastos's blast left of goal going off the head of Korean defender Pak Choi Jin and into the netting above the goal. The Selecao continued to dominate the ball after the break and had a fine position for a free kick in the 51st but Bastos hammered the ball just left from 18 yards. And Robinho's blast from nearly the same spot also went wide left two minutes later.
It was clear that Brazil would need a supreme effort by someone or a keeper blunder to grab the lead. And both occurred on Maicon's opening goal in the 55th minute. Elano sent Maicon down the right side of the area and the Inter Milan star blasted a swerving shot on goal from just short of the touchline. North Korean keeper Ri Myong Guk allowed just enough space between himself and the goal line for Maicon. Luis Fabiano was close to ending his scoring drought - he hasn't found the back of the net in his last five matches - but the Sevilla striker shot over the bar from near distance in the 63rd minute.
Brazil solved the Korean defence once again at the 72-minute mark with Robinho sending a fine through ball into the right half of the area where a charging Elano beat Ri with a one-time shot to the far left post.
The South Americans seemed satisfied with the result but North Korean pulled a goal back in the 89th minute. A long ball left of goal was headed by Jong Tae Se back towards Ji, who found room before beating Julio Cesar with a left foot shot.