Neymar fires Brazil to comeback win over Croatia

Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:57pm EDT
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By Mike Collett

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's poster boy Neymar scored twice and the outstanding Oscar added a late third as the hosts came from behind to beat Croatia 3-1 in a thrilling World Cup opening match on Thursday.

The Group A game, tipped the hosts' way after a controversial 71st-minute penalty awarded by Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura in front of a 62,103 crowd at the Corinthians arena.

But he immediately pointed to the spot and then seemed to run away as if he was going to be brought down by a pack of angry Croatian players after he ruled that Croatia skipper Dejan Lovren had hauled down Fred when it clearly looked as though the Brazil striker threw himself to the ground.

Nishimura ran off the pitch and booked Lovren as the chasing Croatia players screamed at him for what they perceived to be a misjudgement.

After the mayhem Neymar kept his composure and put Brazil ahead for the first time with a right-foot penalty which Croatia keeper Stipe Pletikosa got a hand to but could not save.

"We talk about respect, that wasn't respect, Croatia didn't get any," furious Croatia coach Niko Kovac told reporters.

"If that's a penalty, we don't need to play football anymore. Let's play basketball instead, it's a shame.

"That was ridiculous and if we continue in this way we will have a circus."   Continued...

Brazil's Neymar celebrates his goal against Croatia during their 2014 World Cup opening match at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo June 12, 2014. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj