"The 2014 FIFA World Cup officially got under way on Thursday with a colorful opening ceremony before host Brazil beat Croatia 3-1 in the first match.
"A cast of 660 dancers paid tribute to the country's nature, people and football with a show around a 'living' ball on the Area de Sao Paulo pitch.
"The final act saw a performance of official World Cup song 'We Are One' by Jennifer Lopez and rapper Pitbull.
"The month-long tournament sees 32 nations compete in 64 games.
"Many fans took to the streets to sing and chant their support for Brazil as excitement built in the hours before the tournament began.
"But there were also demonstrations from those unhappy with the expense of hosting the tournament.
"Police in Sao Paulo used tear gas to break up one protest, which involved about 50 people, while striking airport workers in Rio de Janeiro blocked a road outside the airport, demanding a wage increase and a World Cup bonus.
"The strike was to have lasted for 24 hours but union leaders called it off early for legal reasons.
"While there was no trouble within the 65,000-seater Arena de Sao Paulo during the opening ceremony, there were complaints about the sound quality.
"Performers dressed as trees, flowers and various musical instruments all performed in three acts before the central ball opened to reveal singers Caludie Leitte, Jennifer Lopez and rapper Pitbull as they sang the official World Cup song as the finale.
"The opening game of the tournament between Brazil and Croatia kicked off at 21:00 BST, with the hosts coming from behind to win 3-1."
According to CNN's Paul Gittings, the opening ceremonies cost $9 million while hosting the World Cup was pegged at an estimated $11 billion:
"Brazil welcomed the world with a carnival of color as the greatest football tournament on earth began Thursday.
"Fans packed into the stadium in Sao Paulo ahead of the World Cup's opening game between the host nation and Croatia, witnessing a spectacular opening ceremony.
"The show, which comprised of a three-part exploration of Brazilian life, began with a journey into the Amazon rainforest with walking trees and dancing flowers.
"The South American country's diversity was embraced in the second part, with all facets of its culture and traditions celebrated with dancing and maracas.
"The ceremony, which cost $9 million, was brought to an end by a performance from Jennifer Lopez, rapper pitbull and Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte with a rendition of the official World Cup song 'We are One.'
"In the culmination of a seven-year buildup to football's global showpiece which has been plagued by mass protests about the estimated $11 billion cost of staging the tournament and concerns that stadiums and crucial infrastructure would not be completed in time."