(Tuesday, June 15th)
Final Score: Brazil 2, North Korea 1
Johannesburg, South Africa (Sports Network) - Maicon and Elano scored during a 17-minute span of the second half and five-time champion Brazil held off North Korea, 2-1, on Tuesday in FIFA World Cup Group G play at Ellis Park Stadium.
Maicon broke a scoreless match 10 minutes after halftime and Elano doubled the lead in the 72nd, as Brazil overcame a slow start against a North Korean squad ranked 104 spots below the top-ranked Brazilians.
"I think we've made a good start," Maicon said. "We know that it's going to be tough, and a real battle, but it's always important to make a winning start. We want to carry on in the same vain."
North Korea's Ji Yun-Nam scored in the 89th minute and Jong Tae-Se followed in stoppage time with a shot just wide of the right post, as Brazil narrowly held on to take control of the group after the opening-round matches.
"The fact that my players scored a goal against a strong team like Brazil gives me a lot of pleasure," North Korea coach Kim Jong-Hun said. "We didn't win but we gained valuable experience. We're going to be more confident, we want to win our remaining games and get through to the knockout stage. Throughout the match the players followed our game plan and defended well. We were very well prepared and we got some good shots in on goal. I think we fought bravely and with a little bit of luck we could even have got a better result."
North Korea surprised Brazil early, as Jong started his good outing by testing Brazil goalie Julio Cesar from a tight angle in the 11th minute.
Elano responded in the 12th minute with Brazil's first shot on goal, but North Korea goalie Ri Myong-Guk made a routine save. Ri saved another weak effort in the 20th from Robinho, then punched a shot from Maicon wide right in the 27th.
Jon, who tested Brazil with a few long runs, earned a corner kick in the 32nd, and Ri Kwang-Chon eventually unleashed a long shot that sailed just wide left.
Michel Bastos had one last chance as Brazil looked to avoid a scoreless first half, but North Korea's Pak Chol-Jin bravely nudged the ball over the crossbar with his head.
Bastos drove a free kick wide of the upper left from 25 yards six minutes into the second half, and Robinho followed with a shot wide left in the 53rd before the Brazilians finally broke the deadlock.
Felipe Melo settled a throw-in and switched fields to Elano on the right side. Elano quickly laid a pass off to a streaking Maicon. From his right back spot, Maicon reached the ball near the end line and sent the ball between Ri and the near post to find the inside of the far netting.
Bastos followed with a 30-yard rocket Ki punched wide in the 61st minute, then Luis Fabiano wasted an open look from 12 yards when he fired well high with Ki at his mercy.
Elano then put Brazil's up by two goals when he finished a beautiful pass from Robinho in the 72nd minute. Robinho threaded a pass through five North Korean players to Elano on the right side of the area, and Elano his shot back inside the left post to leave Ki helpless.
Kaka and Robinho followed with two quick chances, and Nilmar had two more in a five-minute stretch in the final 10 minutes, but North Korea escaped the flurry still trailing by two goals.
Jong made a solid run in the 86th minute, but Brazil defender Juan did well to deflect the ball in the area to prevent North Korea's second shot on goal.
Ji then scored the first World Cup goal for North Korea since 1966, the team's last appearance in the tournament. Jong got under a long free kick on the left and headed to Ji in the left side of the area. Ji opened space against Brazil captain Lucio, then fired over Cesar.
Brazil leads the group after Ivory Coast and Portugal tied 0-0 in the Group G opener earlier Tuesday. Brazil plays Ivory Coast on Sunday, and North Korea plays Monday against Portugal.
06/16 00:16:02 ET