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Brazil beats Croatia 3-1 in World Cup opener

Brazil beats Croatia 3-1 in World Cup opener

Brazil's Neymar (10) and Croatia's Darijo Srna, left, chase after a loose ball as Croatia's Luka Modric, right, watches during their group A World Cup soccer match, the opening game of the tournament, at Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 12, 2014. Photo: Associated Press/AP Photo/Frank Augstein

SAO PAULO (AP) — Yuishi Nichimura ensured that refereeing standards at the World Cup will be a hotly debated topic from the opening match on Thursday.

The Japanese official awarded Brazil a questionable penalty that Neymar converted in the 71st minute, giving the host nation 2-1 up in what turned into a 3-1 victory over Croatia.

For some referees, Neymar might not have been on the field to take the spot-kick, nor even level the match in the 29th minute.

Nichimura showed the Brazil star just a yellow card in the 26th minute for pushing a forearm into the throat of Croatia playmaker Luka Modric.

Four years ago, the 42-year-old professional referee sent off Brazil defender Felipe Melo in its quarter-final exit against the Netherlands.
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