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World Cup Today: Thursday
by Paul Kennedy, June 12th, 2014 3PM

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TAGS:  world cup 2014

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[BRAZIL 2014] Brazil overcame a shock own goal in the 11th minute to defeat Croatia, 3-1, in the opening game of the World Cup. But it needed two long-distance goals and a suspect penalty to win its ninth straight World Cup opener. Other news: Timmy Chandler injury update, Manuel Neuer and Philipp Lahm ready for Germany's opener, Mexico coach Miguel Herrera's lineup for Friday's opener and American Mark Geiger's first assignment.

An Marcelo own goal in the 11th minute gave Croatia a deserved lead for its enterprising approach, but Neymar equalized with his 32nd international goal in the 29th minute.

The game was decided in the 71st minute on Neymar's second goal, this time from the penalty spot after Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura ruled Dejan Lovren fouled Fred in the area, but replays showed the Brazilian fell on his own.

Oscar added a late goal for Brazil in stoppage time -- a bouncing toe-poke that fooled keeper Stipe Pletikosa -- to the relief of the the crowd at Arena Corinthians after sustained Croatian pressure.

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Brazil-Croatia

Group A
June 12 in Sao Paulo
Brazil 3 Croatia 1.
Goals: Neymar 29, pen. 71, Oscar 90+1; own goal 11.
Brazil --
Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Luiz, Marcelo, Paulinho, Gustavo, Hulk (Bernard, 68), Oscar, Neymar (Ramires 88), Fred.
Croatia --
Pletikosa, Srna, Corluka, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Modric, Rakitic, Perisic, Kovacic (Brozovic, 61), Olic, Jelavic (Rebic 78).
Yellow Cards:
Brazil -- Neymar 27; Croatia -- Corluka 65, Lovren 70.
Referee:
Yuichi Nishimura (Japan).

Group A Standings:
PTS TEAM W-T-L GF/GA
3 Brazil 1-0-0 3/1
0 Cameroon 0-0-0 0/0
0 Croatia 0-0-1 1/3
0 Mexico 0-0-0 0/0

WORLD CUP: Complete 2014 Viewing Schedule

MAKING A LIST: Neymar became the sixth Brazilian to score two goals in Brazil's opening game of the World Cup but the first since 1962 ...

Brazil Two-Goal Scorers:
1938 Peracio (6-5 vs. Poland)
1950 Ademir (4-0 vs. Mexico)
1954 Pinga (5-0 vs. Mexico)
1958 Mazzola (3-0 vs. Austria)
1962 Amarildo (2-0 vs. Mexico)
2014 Neymar (3-1 vs. Croatia)



Barra Funda Update ...

CHANDLER SITS. Timmy Chandler, who is competing for the starting left back spot, did not participate in the USA's training because of a leg injury termed minor. He was expected to resume training on Friday at the Sao Paulo FC training center before the USA flies to Natal ahead of Monday's opener against Ghana.

On the Ground ...

PROTESTS SMALLER.
While there were clashes in Sao Paulo in the hours before the opener, it should be noted that the numbers involved were much smaller than in 2013 when Brazilians protested en masse during the Confederations Cup.

Several hundred demonstrators gathered east of downtown Sao Paulo but still far from the Arena Corinthians in an attempt to cut off the road to the stadium, and they clashed heavily armed police firing tear gas, rubber bullets and noise bombs. At least five people, including CNN producer Barbara Arvanitidis, were injured in clashes. The number of demonstrators is consistent with the crowds that have turned out in recent months.


On Deck ...

NO CHICHARITO.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera named Guillermo Ochoa over Jesus Corona to start in goal Friday against Cameroon. Piojo's choice in goal was the big question mark about the El Tri lineup heading into its opener. Herrera's decision to start Oribe Peralta and Giovani dos Santos  and leave out Javier Hernandez, Mexico’s third all-time leading goalscorer, was not a surprise.

WORLD CUP: 503 Places to Watch

“The team that started against Portugal made me very happy on the offensive [end]," Herrera said. "There was good chemistry between Dos Santos and Oribe.”

Only three players who started in Mexico's 2-2 tie with the USA on April 2 are in the starting lineup: captain Rafael Marquez, Francisco Javier Rodriguez and Miguel Layun, all defenders in Herrera's 5-3-2.

Mexico -- Ochoa; Marquez, Rodriguez, Moreno; Aguilar, Layun; Vazquez, Guardado, Herrera; Dos Santos,  Peralta.

WORLD CUP: 503 Places to Watch

Referee Corner ...

GEIGER GETS SATURDAY GAME.
American referee Mark Geiger has been assigned work his first World Cup game on Saturday when Colombia plays Greece in Belo Horizonte.

Geiger's assistants are American Mark Hurd and Canadian Joe Fletcher, forming the same crew that did the 2011 Under-20 World Cup final in Colombia, the match he calls the highlight of his career.

Injury Report ...

LAHM AND NEUER READY. Germany's injury worries lessened as national team coach Joachim Loew said on Thursday that captain Philipp Lahm, who was also struggling with an injured ankle, will likely start against Portugal on Monday in Salvador -- in midfield rather than in the back four.

Loew added that goalie Manuel Neuer, who had not trained with the national team since he injured his right shoulder in the German Cup final with Bayern Munich on May 17, will also start after having taken part in training on Thursday.


7 comments
  1. Millwall America
    commented on: June 12, 2014 at 6:26 p.m.
    Highway robbery. From Brazil's go-ahead penalty (softest I've ever seen in a competitive match) to Croatia having their second (tying) goal waved off, this match was the first I've ever seen where I felt like I was watching referee-driven match-fixing occur in real-time, I picked Brazil to win 3-1 in my office pool (yay!) but I've never been more disappointed. I hope Croatia qualify out of the group and Brazil lose in the quarter finals. Absolute travesty. If Brazil celebrate this victory, the entire country is pathetic.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: June 12, 2014 at 7:14 p.m.
    Wow, how do you figure Oscar's goal was "a bouncing toe poke???" It was well taken with the outside of his foot, which the GK could not quite reach. and yes, the PK was dubious, while Croatia's nullified goal was a correct call, as the referee determined that Julio Cesar had been fouled while he was going for the ball. And yet the ref should probably sent off a Croatian player for several persistent fouls, and yet to say it was a "referee-driven match-fixing occur in real time...(sic)" WOW yet again! So I say PLAY ON!!!

  1. Juan R
    commented on: June 12, 2014 at 7:37 p.m.
    It was a toe poke, nothing wrong with that. Good point on how the match was referred, though I hope he does not ref another game at the cup. Too easy to get a penalty from the guy.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: June 12, 2014 at 7:54 p.m.
    Looks like FIFA really needs Brazil to go far in this WC.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: June 12, 2014 at 8 p.m.
    The fact that it was a toe poke was the reason the goalkeeper was so flat-footed; he was expecting the shot on the next step, so it was a brilliant goal by Oscar. The "foul" that created the PK, on the other hand, was a clear dive. It will be interesting to see if Paul Gardner mentions this, since he claims diving is not a problem. There was also no foul on the GK to warrant nullifying Croatia's goal; the contact was minimal. I think the latter was probably a case of the ref "protecting" the GK (or in this case, saving him). Refereeing these games is incredibly difficult, but unfortunately, this ref got a few key calls wrong (I also think he was taken in by Marcelo's complaining and began to call more for Brazil in the 2nd half). I've always thought it would be incredibly difficult to have a ref fix a match, but this one certainly makes one wonder (though without additional evidence, I'd attribute it to the home town advantage, rather than bribing the referee). I did not have a favorite in the game, and while Brazil was the more talented team, I thought Croatia played well enough to deserve a tie.

  1. Tom Symonds
    commented on: June 12, 2014 at 9:10 p.m.
    Blatter's worst nightmare: Croatia wins; millions of Brazilians riot; players' and fans' safety cannot be guaranteed; tournament shut down. Referee works for FIFA - easy to fix to get Brazil the necessary win. Don't think WC ref's can't be manipulated? Remember Byron Moreno in 2002. Nishimura should be on first plane back to Japan and never ref a FIFA tournament again.

  1. Ron Beilstein
    commented on: June 13, 2014 at 1:38 a.m.
    If FIFA is concerned about simulation, Fred should get a six game suspension and Brazil should be penalized 3 points. It's the first game of the tourney, and FIFA could send a message so no one would dive.


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