Friday, June 13, 2014
2014 FIFA WORLD CUP BEGINS AS HOST, BRAZIL WINS CROATIA 3-1 DESPITE OUTRAGEOUS PENALTY
Barcelona star, Neymar certainly lived up to the expectation of his country's poster boy as he scored two goals aongside an Oscar goal to help Brazil begin FIFA 2014 World cup on a winning note over Croatia in Sao Paulo.
Neymar found net on either side of half-time after Marcelo had scored an early own goal and Oscar cemented the result with a wonderful individual goal late to the adulation at the Arena de Sao Paulo.
Croatia kicked off and got off the first shot through Mateo Kovacic then David Luiz replied with a tame header on five minutes.
Then the first real chance came on seven minutes when Ivica Olic bullied Dani Alves but his header went marginally wide.
This was the warning sign for the Selecao, but it was not heeded. Another run down the left in the 10t minute by Olic and a his cross was marginally touched by Jelavic and that took it into Marcelo’s path and the defender diverted into his own net.
That was the first own goal by a Brazilian in 20 editions of the World Cup.
Brazil stepped up the pressure but Croatia were well organised behind the ball with Oscar the most potent outlet on the right flank.
The Chelsea ran at Vrsaijko at every opportunity and whipped in crosses.
His persistence finally paid off in the 29th minute when he won a ball in midfield and Neymar took it on and scored with a left-footed shot that crept in off the post.
But just seconds earlier, Cesar had to hold on to a well directed header from Jelavic.
The second goal however was a questionable one as Dejan Lovren was judged to have fouled Fred in the box. Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura pointed to the spot, despite replays showing little contact had been made.
Lovren was shown a yellow card for his hot protests. Neymar stepped up to the plate and fired to Pletikosa’s right and the goalkeeper got his hand on the ball but could not prevent it going in.
Oscar put a gloss on the final score with a tremendous late goal that his man-of-the-match performance warranted. With Croatia committed upfield, he burst forward and toe-poked in from 25 yards, taking Pletikosa by surprise with a low drive.
So an opening game that needed a Brazilian win, got one. It also got an outrageously poor penalty award, to the hosts, an equally soft disallowed goal, for their opponents and a dubious decision that kept the poster boy of the tournament and scorer of two Brazilian goals, Neymar, on the field when he could easily have been sent off.
The score at the time was 1-0 to Croatia.
It was also the 10th consecutive win for Luiz Felipe Scolari's side but Brazil demonstrated flaws and fragilities. They did not play with the fluency or flamboyance that saw them swat aside Spain to win the Confederations Cup so emphatically last year.
So, not a good night for referee Yuichi Nishimura of Japan who will feature in many conspiracy theorists most fevered speculations from here. He was almost certainly useless, not corrupt, but it is true that his three big errors were all to the benefit of one team.