Brazil secured a 2-1 win against Korea DPR but they were made to work extremely hard to secure maximum points after the Asian outsiders showed impressive resilience.
The North Koreans kept Dunga's team scoreless until ten minutes into the second half when Maicon scored a stunning goal from an outrageous angle. When Elano doubled the lead with 18 minutes remaining, the contest appeared all over but a late goal from Ji Yun-Nam ensured Brazil endured some nervy moments in the final moments.
On paper the contrast between the pair could not have been starker, in what was the nations' first-ever meeting. Five-time world champions Brazil are top of FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking while Korea DPR sit at 105. The Koreans came into the contest on a run of eight outings without a victory, while Brazil conversely, had won their previous four matches.
The first half was largely all Brazil, though they had very few clear sights of goal. Kaka made a dangerous run into the penalty area in the opening minutes, which seemed likely to set the tone for the match, but the North Korean side, who conceded just seven goals in their 14 qualifying matches, showed just why they are known for their swarming defence.
They were not without their own lively moments going forward either – defender Cha Jong-Hyok fired a shot wide, while Japan-based striker Jong Tae-Se, who had tears streaming down his face as the national anthem played, offered plenty of drive in his role at the point of the attack.
The nearest Brazil came to scoring in the first half was through a Michel Bastos drive from distance which clipped the roof of the net but, in truth, never looked like dipping under the crossbar. Korea DPR went into the half-time interval looking relatively comfortable, despite conceding 63 per cent of possession. The North Korean fans inside Ellis Park may even have allowed themselves at least brief thoughts of their favourites repeating the heroics of that famous defeat of Italy at England 1966.
Brazil started the second half brightly, and a Bastos free-kick from a central position looked dangerous, but the blistering effort curved wide of the mark. The same happened with Robinho's snapshot moments later, as Brazil again found themselves forced to resort to shooting from distance.
Ten minutes after the interval, though, a moment of brilliance from Maicon broke the deadlock. There appeared little danger as he chased down a slightly overhit pass into the penalty area, but with the ball just about to roll over the by-line, he blazed a shot between Ri Myong-Guk and the near post, in a goal reminiscent of fellow Brazilian right full-back Josimar at Mexico 1986.
The goal opened up the match as the Koreans started to show more endeavour with numbers going forward. Luis Fabiano looked set to take advantage midway through the second half after being set up by Robinho but the Sevilla man could not find the target. The contest appeared over in the 72nd minute when Elano comfortably finished past an exposed Ri Myong-Guk, with Robinho the provider with an exquisite pass that checkmated the entire Korean defensive quartet.
With the clock ticking down it was A Selecao who looked more likely to score a third, but with a minute of regular time remaining, Ji burst into the penalty area and drove a memorable strike past Julio Cesar - Korea DPR's first goal at a FIFA World Cup™ for 44 years.