Brazilian breakthrough

Brazil needed almost an hour to break through the North Korean defence before pulling off a 2-1 win Tuesday, and Didier Drogba and his broken right arm made their debut at this year’s World Cup in Ivory Coast’s 0-0 draw against Portugal.

Brazil’s Michel Bastos

Brazil’s Michel Bastos

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Brazil needed almost an hour to break through the North Korean defence before pulling off a 2-1 win Tuesday, and Didier Drogba and his broken right arm made their debut at this year’s World Cup in Ivory Coast’s 0-0 draw against Portugal.

Maicon scored from an almost impossible angle in the 55th minute and Elano added the other in the 72nd to give the five-time champion Brazilians three points in their opening Group G match at Ellis Park.

But the win didn’t come easy, with the little-known North Koreans playing almost the entire team behind the ball to stifle Brazil’s potent attack for most of the match.

“It is important to start with a victory and we did it,” Maicon said. “It was a good step toward our goal of being in the final on July 11.”

Also, Winston Reid headed in an equalizing goal in injury time to give New Zealand a 1-1 draw with Slovakia in Group F.

Brazil struggled to get through the clogged area in front of North Korea goalkeeper Ri Myong Guk, but Maicon surprised Ri when he ran down the right side and kicked the ball toward the near post just before it was going out. Ri appeared to be expecting a cross.

Elano later received a threaded pass from Robinho and needed only one touch to shoot the ball past Ri.

“The opener is always harder,” Dunga said. “There is the anxiety, the players are more nervous than usual, trying to do too much. But we are satisfied.”

Ji Yun Nam pulled one back in the 89th for North Korea, which last played at the 1966 World Cup and reached the quarter-finals.

Jong Tae Se played alone in attack for North Korea and was able to cause some trouble for the Brazilian defenders, but the “People’s Rooney” couldn’t get one in the net.

“I thought we fought bravely. We defended very well,” North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun said. “I think we gained a lot of experience and, for the remaining two games, we have gained confidence.”

Drogba, the African Player of the Year who broke his arm during a friendly 11 days ago, came on as a substitute in the 66th minute but had little impact on the Group G game in Port Elizabeth.

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo hit the post early, but Ivory Coast otherwise created the chances in the rainy match.

“We created some more chances than they did,” Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said. “If you think about discipline and organization, I think we were organized for all 90 minutes.”

Drogba played with a special protective cast, approved by FIFA, on his arm. But still he was on the bench at the start.

“I spoke to him after training yesterday evening and he said he preferred to be on the bench,” Eriksson said. “He said ’Boss, if you need me, I am there.’ I hoped we would not need him but we wanted to win the game so we did what we did.

“We did not put any pressure on him.”

Reid scored in Rustenburg from a cross by Shane Smeltz, giving New Zealand its first point at a World Cup after losing all its games in its debut in 1982.

“It probably was the most important goal of my life,” Reid said. “I didn’t see the ball until late. I knew that if I got it on target and didn’t hit it too hard, I could just guide it in.”

Robert Vittek had given Slovakia the lead in the 50th minute, heading in a cross from Stanislav Sestak after Reid let him move free.

Outside the World Cup stadiums, a strike over pay by the security stewards spread to half the tournament’s 10 venues, forcing police to step in and assume their duties.

Several hundred guards walked off the job at Soccer City, the main World Cup stadium in Johannesburg. There was no match there Tuesday.

Police said they also have taken over security at stadiums in Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

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