TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) — Luiz Felipe Scolari knows a thing or two about difficult World Cup starts, and he's advising Brazilians not to panic.
Following Brazil's struggles in a 3-1 win over Croatia in the opening match at home, the veteran coach reminded everyone that this is nothing new to him.
He readily recalled his team's tough starts in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. Brazil had to come from behind to beat Turkey 2-1 in 2002, while favorite Portugal just barely beat Angola 1-0 under his command in its opener in Germany.
And the start in 2002 also came thanks to a controversial penalty kick in favor of Brazil, just as it was in Thursday's win over Croatia in Sao Paulo.
Scolari was quick to point out the positive in all of it.
"I like the coincidence," Scolari said. "But we know there's still a lot to do, we still have six matches left."
Brazil got off to s a slow start at its home tournament. The five-time world champion conceded an own goal less than 15 minutes into the match against Croatia and needed a contentious penalty in the second half to take the lead. The Croatians complained about the decision made by Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura when Fred fell inside the area after minimal contact from a defender.
"I've seen the play 10 times and it was a penalty," Scolari said. "It's a decision by the referee. If he thinks it was a penalty, then it was a penalty."