Thiago Silva's Brazil started with a victory in Qatar, while there was an eventful start to the tournament for Baba Rahman and Ghana...

Thiago Silva captained Brazil in their FIFA World Cup 2022 opener against Serbia, starting alongside Marquinhos at centre-back for his 110th international cap.

It was a star-studded samba side selected by boss Tite, with Neymar, Vinicius Junior and Raphinha lining up for the five-time world champions, who came into the tournament with expectations high.

For the 38-year-old Chelsea defender, running out in Qatar completed a long-held dream of appearing in his fourth World Cup and he spoke openly in the build-up to this game about the honour of wearing the skipper’s armband for the Selecao.

Urged on by a vocal support at the Lusail Stadium, Thiago Silva saw plenty of the ball as Brazil probed with patience but a lack of penetration. Most of his early work centred on recycling possession and moving his side up the field, though the presence of Fulham’s lively striker Aleksandar Mitrovic ensured the Brazilian backline remained alert.

There was even opportunity for Thiago Silva to have an impact in the opposite 18-yard box as he stretched to connect with a loose ball but was beaten to it by Serbia stopper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic.

The breakthrough finally arrived just after the hour mark when Neymar’s jinking run fell nicely for Vinicius Junior and the Real Madrid’s powerful shot was palmed into the path of Richarlison, who poked it home.

Despite Serbia responding well, it was the same duo that took the game beyond them with 15 minutes remaining as Vinicius Junior supplied from the left and Richarlison produced a moment of magic to control and then finish acrobatically into the corner of the net.

After 13 shutouts in 17 qualifying matches, Thiago Silva contributed to another important clean sheet in this opening tournament game as the Serbians were unable to muster a single shot on target over the 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, Brazil hit the woodwork twice through Alex Sandro and Casemiro to go along with Richarlison’s brace and underline their credentials as contenders in Qatar.

Black Stars shine in defeat

Baba Rahman was involved in an entertaining contest between Ghana and Portugal as the two sides shared five goals at Stadium 974, the first temporary stadium in FIFA World Cup history.

The venue gets its name from the 974 recycled shipping containers that have formed its construction and Ghana certainly had to see off some early waves of pressure from Cristiano Ronaldo and Co in their Group H opener.

Baba, on loan from Chelsea at Reading this season, started at left wing-back as the Black Stars looked to contain the Euro 2016 winners, who featured Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix and Ronaldo, the free agent starting up top just days after he and Manchester United mutually agreed to terminate his contract at Old Trafford.

Portugal’s number seven looked liveliest early on with a couple of decent chances but Ghana held strong, with Baba effective at keeping Joao Cancelo very quiet on his flank. The 28-year-old was also on set-piece duty for the African side but his left-footed deliveries failed to materialise into anything of note.

The drama was reserved for the final 25 minutes as Ronaldo fired Portugal in front from the penalty spot having won the spot-kick himself. The goal meant he became the first man to score at five separate World Cup tournaments yet the celebrations didn’t last long as Ghana swiftly equalised, with Baba providing an incisive pass forward for Mohammed Kudus to chase and the Ajax forward’s low cutback prodded in by Andre Ayew.

Tariq Lamptey, born in west London and raised at the Chelsea Academy in Cobham, came off the bench to aid the Ghanaian cause but Portugal quickly restored, and then extended, their lead through Joao Felix and Rafael Leao.

Baba was involved again as Ghana fought back bravely, chasing down a hopeful long pass and outmuscling Cancelo before delivering for substitute Osman Bukari to head in to make it 3-2 in the penultimate minute of normal time.

There was almost a late leveller when Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa failed to spot Inaki Williams lurking behind him as he dropped the ball but the Athletic Bilbao forward slipped at the vital moment and the points were Portugal’s. Next up for Ghana is South Korea on Monday.

Swiss start with a win

Earlier in the day, Denis Zakaria was an unused substitute as Switzerland kicked off their Group G campaign with a narrow victory over Cameroon.

The Rossocrociati claimed all three points courtesy of Monaco striker Breel Embolo, who fired in the only goal of the game early in the second half. The side ranked 15th in the world by FIFA take on Brazil next.

Tonight's action brings the first round of group matches to a close, with our England contingent plus Cesar Azpilicueta's Spain among the early pace-setters in Qatar.