Brazil 3-1 Croatia: Neymar Clinches Controversial Win

What Are You Playing At? Referee Error Helps Brazil

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.

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.

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