RIO DE JANEIRO — The football World Cup opened Thursday night in Brazil with a 3-1 victory for the host country. Nearly 80,000 fans attended the match in Sao Paulo while millions more watched it on television sets around the country.
Brazil erupted with joy as its team scored its first goal of the World Cup. The point erased moments of agony following an own-goal that gave rival Croatia the first goal of the tournament.
The Brazilians "played very well," said Australian Paul Clark, as he had his hair braided after the game. "They had possession for most of the game and they held on to it well."
During the match, demonstrators protesting the high cost of the games marched past the fans in Copacabana. A protest earlier in the day was dispersed by police using tear gas.
Fans Fabiana Lima and Susan Saliba said they sympathized with the protesters’ cause but not with the protest.
"I think it’s not the moment now," one said. "The World Cup has started. It’s a unique event. However unhappy we might be, this is the moment to enjoy the World Cup. We have a lot of problems but they are not the fault of the Cup.:"
Fans partied late into the night. The festival of football begins in earnest Friday with the first full day of matches and ends in a month with the final in this city’s Maracana stadium.