Maicon and Elano scored a goal each as Brazil broke through a solid North Korean defense to win their opening World Cup match 2-1 in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Brazil escaped with a hard-fought victory in the Group G match after struggling to get past the defensive setup of the North Koreans, who are making their first World Cup appearance in 44 years and arrived as the tournament's lowest-ranked team.
Maicon scored at Ellis Park after a through ball from midfielder Elano in the 55th minute, making a run on the right side and shooting into the far corner from a tight angle as North Korea goalkeeper Ri Myong Guk went for the cross.
Elano then added to the lead in the 72nd after a well-timed pass from Robinho, finding the net with a one-timer from inside the area.
Ji Yum Nam pulled one back for North Korea in the 89th.
The victory gives Brazil first place in the group after Portugal and the Ivory Coast drew 0-0 in their opener earlier Tuesday.
Brazil controlled possession from the start but struggled to break through the Korean lineup with five men at the back. Robinho was about the only Brazilian able to create some dangerous opportunities.
He took advantage of his nifty skills to give Brazil its first chance just two minutes into the match, using a stepover move to clear a defender and set up Kaka inside the area, but the playmaker failed to get a shot off as North Korea's An Yong Hak stole the ball.
Robinho had his own chance with a long-range shot that missed the target in the seventh and with a quick strike from inside the penalty area that was saved by Ri in the 20th. Robinho cleared a defender again inside the area in the 34th and set up Michel Bastos' shot that missed over the crossbar.
The defensive-minded North Koreans played with only Japan-based Jong Tae Se in attack, but he was able to cause some problems to the Brazilian defense. He got past three defenders in the 12th but his weak shot was easily saved by Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar.