Luis Felipe Scolari’s Brazil side fell behind to a Marcelo own goal in Sao Paulo but fought back, with Barcelona star Neymar netting twice to earn the hosts three points, with Oscar adding a late third.
Brazil fielded an expected line-up with the only notable absentee being Chelsea’s diminutive winger, Willian. Niko Kovac was forced to make a change just 25-minutes before kick-off for Croatia, bringing in Mateo Kovacic for Marcelo Brozovic.
The first real chance came for the visitors. A brilliant cross from Perisic on the break found Wolfsburg team-mate, Ivica Olic, but the former Bayern Munich forward could only head inches wide.
The wake up call was not heeded and Brazil were 1-0 down just moments later. A surge down the left-hand side from Olic saw the striker produce a low cross into the six-yard box, which was unfortunately put into the back of his own net by Marcelo in the 11th minute.
Pletikosa was called into action and he denied Oscar in the 22nd minute after the midfielder unleashed a brilliant left-footed effort, following great work from Neymar down the right-hand side.
There was drama in the 26th minute as the referee issued the first yellow card of the tournament. Barcelona star Neymar clashed with Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, with the Croatia players furious and insisting that Neymar intentionally used an elbow.
The drama sparked the hosts into life and Neymar, who could have been sent off just moments earlier, unleashed a low drive with his left-foot which went in, via the post, on 29 minutes.
After a major lull in the game going in to half-time, the game sprung back into life on 65 minutes when Corluka hacked down Neymar as the youngster ran at the Croatia defence, in-turn enabling the referee to brandish a yellow card to the former.
Moments later Fred, who had completed just four out of eight passes in the first-half, was hauled down by Dejan Lovren in the penalty box which saw the referee point to the penalty spot, perhaps unfortunately so on the Southampton man.
After a peculiar run-up, Neymar stepped up in the 71st minute and netted his second of the game, with Pletikosa inches away from denying the striker.
More controversy surrounded the game as Croatia equalised in the 83rd minute, however, the referee decided that Olic had fouled Julio Cesar in the build-up after he met a Sime Vrsaljko cross with his head.
Croatia pushed for a late equaliser, but the hosts held out for a crucial three points and added gloss to the scoreline with a great finish from Oscar in added time.