The World Cup opener had almost everything you could have expected; golazos from Neymar, bikini-clad females in the stands, lights going out in the stadium, a controversial penalty for the home team, Pitbull in capri pants. You know, no big surprises.
Still, it was an enthralling couple hours for anyone who feverishly awaited this day — so much so that you probably didn’t pick up on a few things. Luckily, we kept a running diary of the events, from the opening ceremony right down to the last kick:
2 hours to kickoff: The ceremony begins with dozens of kids dressed as rainforest shrubbery dancing around a blue globe. The whole scene reminds me of a regular Thursday afternoon on Venice Beach … with the Green Doctors and everything.
1:55 to kickoff: Ents from “Lord of the Rings” are also here.
6 year old in the house well into the opening ceremony. Thinks it is very cool. There you have your captive audience.— Amy Lawrence (@amylawrence71)June 12, 2014
1:30 to kickoff: The globe turns into a soccer ball. More kids play with an unholy contraption: it’s a combination of a tether ball and Dance Dance Revolution with mini-balls attached to string. I could do that.
1:25 to kickoff: The ball splits open like a Venus flytrap and Claudia Leitte appears to huge roars from the crowd, probably mistaking her for Jennifer Lopez.
1:25 to kickoff: And here comes J. Lo and our favorite person, Pitbull, who’s wearing white capri pants straight out of the 1990s and a bright-yellow Brazil polo. Size: Youth Medium.
I mean, I think Pitbull is wearing something you’d call clothes but it’s hard to say.— Sam Borden (@SamBorden)June 12, 2014
1:22 to kickoff: In other news, J. Lo most certainly still got “it.”
1:20 to kickoff: Some very aggressive arm-waving by our three performers until they disappear with another few million doll hairs in the bank, all for a four-minute performance. Sigh.
1:18 to kickoff: Now what do we do for a whole ‘nother hour?
1 hour to kickoff: Time to flip over to ESPN’s pregame show.
0:59 to kickoff: No Michael Ballack? Disappointing.
0:58 to kickoff: Gilberto Silva, part of Brazil’s 2002 World Cup-winning team, opens by talking about what this tournament means to Brazil. Apparently, it’s a huge deal for Brazil. Who knew?
0:45 to kickoff: We’re one half of soccer away. Let’s check in to see how our friends at Men In Blazers are doing:
Nipples Tingling #WorldCup— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers)June 12, 2014
0:32 to kickoff: Mike Tirico on Brazil: “If the team wins, a lot of folks will be happy.” Hard-hitting analysis right there.
0:20 to kickoff: Adriana Lima appears in a Kia commercial advocating that “for one month, let’s all be futbol fans.” Done and done.
0:08 to kickoff: Players are in the tunnel. Luiz Gustavo’s evil twin is a late replacement for Luiz Gustavo.
0:05 to kickoff: The national anthems are playing. In a related story, my entire body is covered in goosebumps.
0:04 to kickoff: David Luiz’s vocal cords are about to burst and Julio Cesar starts to cry, again. Croatia stands no chance.
0:03 to kickoff: Brazil’s anthem is cut off, but the team, no, the entire stadium keeps belting it out at the top of their lungs. My goosebumps are now having goosebumps.
0:02 to kickoff: Brazil takes the official team picture. This is what they see:
— USATODAYSportsImages (@USATsportsImage)June 12, 2014
0:01 to kickoff: Three doves are released into the air as a symbol of peace ahead of the World Cup. Two of the doves immediately crash to their demise.
Errrr, think one of those doves is dead already. Flew straight into stand and went down.— Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils)June 12, 2014
KICK-OFF: OMG, omg, omg!!
11th minute: An Ivica Olic cross finds the foot of Marcelo and the ball goes in for an own goal. That has to be a World Cup first. Brazilians are such kind hosts!
15th minute: Uh oh. The lights are starting to go out in Sao Paulo, to absolute nobody’s surprise.
Sepp Blatter orders money burned to light field in second half. Helpfully suggests they get it from Brazilian treasury.— Andrew Das (@AndrewDasNYT)June 12, 2014
20th minute: Hilarious: Some poor fella named Marcello is getting bombarded by people who don’t know Marcelo only has one “L.”
To all those hurling abuse at me for scoring an own goal, please re-direct your anger to @12MarceloV. Thank you— Marcello (@Marcello)June 12, 2014
29th minute: Neymar scores the equalizer with a long distance strike that beats Croatia keeper Stipe Pletikosa and goes in off the post. You can hear the collective sigh of relief of an entire nation all around the world. Fireworks are going off, too, because why not.
30th minute: Whatever Neymar’s father mumbled in his ear, it worked.
Halftime: Time to breathe. (We have 31 days of this madness, by the way.)
46th minute: Good news regarding the doves of peace:
Exciting dove update: The one remaining dove has flown into the press box! pic.twitter.com/JA8rQC1KtK— Hadley Freeman (@HadleyFreeman)June 12, 2014
60th minute: Players are laboring a little bit after a fast-and-furious first half. Time to see what’s good on Twitter:
— Manuel Neuer (@Manuel_Neuer)June 12, 2014
Yup, it’s definitely going to be the “World Cup of Selfies.” You’ve been warned.
71st minute: Fred goes down in the box after the slightest of shirt grabs from Dejan Lovren and gets the penalty call for his Oscar-worthy performance. A truly horrendous call, or as Romelu Lukaku aptly describes it:
🙈🙈🙈🙈— R.Lukaku Bolingoli (@RomeluLukaku9)June 12, 2014
Yeah, you better run:
72nd minute: Pletikosa gets a mitt on it, but not enough. Neymar scores to make it 2-1, Brazil.
The host nation are allowed one shocking decision. Brazil have used it early.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker)June 12, 2014
75th minute: Fact:
After seeing that penalty call for Brazil, Luis Suárez is grinning manically and rubbing his hands together.— SB Nation Soccer (@SBNationSoccer)June 12, 2014
83rd minute: The ball is in Brazil’s net, but Olic is called for a foul on Julio Cesar. Another dubious decision by Mr. Nishimura, who cements his Man Of The Match performance. Poor Croatia.
90th minute: Oscar scores to make it 3-1, Pletikosa does not look good on that one. Chelsea teammate Eden Hazard is excited.
Congratulation my bro @oscar11 for your goal👍👍.— Eden hazard (@hazardeden10)June 12, 2014
Full Time: Brazil wins the opener in controversial fashion, while the Croatians are rightly outraged. More importantly, Sao Paulo’s World Cup stadium is still in one piece, and we have 63 matches left to go.
Enjoy the World Cup, everyone.
Images provided by Reuters and Getty.