SPORT

Brazil 3-1 Croatia: Neymar Clinches Controversial Win

12/06/2014 23:07 BST | Updated 13/06/2014 09:59 BST

Neymar handled the weight of expectation effortlessly as he scored twice in Brazil's controversial 3-1 World Cup opening win against Croatia.

Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura inexplicably penalised Dejan Lovren for bringing down Fred with the score at 1-1, when it appeared as though the Brazilian striker had lost his balance.

Neymar converted the spot-kick, despite a wretched run-up and Stipe Pletikosa getting a heavy hand to it, before man of the match Oscar rounded off the scoring late on, with the Croatian goalkeeper culpable again.

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Croatian players protest after Dejan Lovren is penalised for conceding a penalty

An 11th minute Marcelo own goal gave Croatia the lead at the Arena Corinthians, only for Neymar to level just before the half-hour mark.

Each Brazil goal, two scored by Neymar - the second after a dubious penalty won by Fred - and a third by Oscar was greeted by a flurry of fireworks bursting across the Sao Paulo skyline.

Then came the controversy. Fred manoeuvred for the ball in the Croatia penalty area, and Southampton centre-back Dejan Lovren laid barely a finger on his shoulder for the Brazil striker to fling himself down. Referee Nishimura awarded the softest of spot-kicks, dispatched by Neymar.

Ivica Olić was penalised for a dubious challenge on keeper Júlio César, and it was left to Oscar to surprise Pletikosa with a steered finish with the toe of his boot to send the hosts into raptures.