Brazil's Neymar celebrates his second goal on a penalty kick during the group A World Cup soccer match between Brazil and Croatia, the opening game of the tournament, in the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Ivan Sekretarev


Everybody’s searching for gold.

Coronado tried to find seven cities of it.

Crusty old guys like Jack Hoffman and “Dakota” Fred Hurt have spent episode after episode on the Discovery Channel failing more than succeeding in their bids to find the precious metal.

Good Ole Tom seems to be perpetually on the airwaves telling us he wants us to “come on down” to “get the most” for our gold.

Guess what, I found it on Thursday in a cauldron full of golden jerseys called Arena Corinthians. Urged on by a country of 201 million and a crowd of 62,103, golden boy Neymar scored twice as Brazil began its World Cup campaign with a 3-1 win over Croatia.

An early own goal aside, there were enough golden moments to fill the stadium and leave plenty to pour out into the Sao Paulo night. Here’s a look at some of the more shining moments as the day unfolded.

  • Horns are already blaring at 7 a.m., and even the dogs are wearing Brazil jerseys.
  • Inappropriate media clothing alert: There’s a woman in a tube top-style shirt and yellow shorts that probably wouldn’t have enough material to be used as a pillow cover. Duh, doesn’t she know that it’s yellow shirts and blue shorts that are in vogue right now.
  • The opening ceremony is minutes away, and there are guys on stilts dressed like cypress trees walking by the press tribune, and women stand on the field with traditional all-white Bahia dresses billowing out like Scarlett O’Hara’s best outfit. This is awesome.
  • There are trampolines, musical instruments the size of Escalades and walking birds of paradise — am I in a dream? Right now, I desperately want to take a selfie with the giant gourd rattle.
  • A giant ball in the middle of the field splits open like a mango, and out of it rise Pitbull and Claudia Leitte, in extremely high heels (just Leitte, not Pitbull). They sing the World Cup anthem, get cheers from the crowd and are
  • swallowed back up by the ball. I’m flabbergasted, and there’s still an hour and 15 minutes before kickoff. The whole spectacle is now a far cry from 1994 in Chicago when Diana Ross missed her shot on goal from about 5 yards.
  • I find I’m spending a good part of the day alternating between smiling from ear to ear and tearing up because I feel so lucky to be here and so to have people who love me enough to help me make it here. I wish everyone on this globe could have a day like this.
  • The teams come out to practice. The Croats are firing off volleys that are missing the goal. That’s a good thing if you are a Brazil fan. Well, perhaps not if you are the Brazil fan who just got nailed by one of the balls.
  • The PA starts playing AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” which the crowd is singing along to as if it were the national anthem. On a
  • day full of surprises, this I did not expect. Thunderstruck indeed.
  • As the match begins, I write something I thought I would never write: Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar plays in Major League Soccer. Just shows how the American league is improving. And I don’t mean the Yankees and Red Sox.
  • After an accidental elbow to a Croat player’s head, good will has stormed out of the stadium and tension has clearly taken a seat, front and center.
  • Croatia scores on an own goal by defender Marcelo. You expect silence but get what sounds more like the world’s largest harumph.
  • Neymar lives up to the billing and squeezes it past the keeper to tie it. The roar is unequaled. Fireworks can be heard bursting outside the stadium.
  • There’s a shot by Hulk, but he put a little too much power behind it. I’ve been waiting to type that, you might have guessed.
  • The half ends to applause, and there’s probably a few deep breaths among the Brazilian fans.
  • As a TV monitor shows a blimp shot of the stadium at halftim
  • e, it makes me wonder that if it was seen from space, would the stadium look like one of those yellow dots you see on a map indicating the site of a big city.
  • The wave has started — it sort of looks like a cornfield just before a storm hits.
  • Hulk is replaced by Bernard. Shouldn’t he be replaced by, like, Iron Man.
  • Another superhero, Neymar converts a penalty, and all is well in the state of yellow again.
  • The cheers rise as Neymar is replaced. The gasps rise as Croatia has a good chance go begging.
  • Brazil adds another goal before the whistle finally blows, and the Cup has kicked off in fine style.