Controversial start to FIFA World Cup 2014

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Brazil's Hernanes celebrates with Neymar, right, after the latter scored his second goal on a penalty kick
Sao Paulo, June 13: FIFA World Cup 2014 got off to a controversial start on Thursday (June 12) as hosts Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1 in the tournament opener here.

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After the colourful opening ceremony had officially set the ball rolling for the tournament, home team faced Croatia in Group A fixture.

All four goals in the opening clash were scored by Brazil. While Neymar slotted home two and Oscar added one, Marcelo had the ignominy of kicking the ball into his own net.

But the talking point of the first match of this year's World Cup was a controversial penalty awarded to Brazil by Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura.

The spot-kick was converted into a goal by World Cup debutant Neymar in the 71st minute, much to the delight of the fans in yellow while the red and white Croat brigade was heart-broken.

Croat players were furious to see Nishimura point his hand towards the penalty spot after Fred was brought down in the box by defender Dejan Lovren.

In his post-match comments, Croat coach Niko Kovac blasted the Japanese official. He claimed if penalities were awarded like this, there would be "100" in this World Cup.

"If anybody saw that was a penalty, let them raise their hand. I cannot raise my hand. I didn't see it. If you continue in this vein then there will be 100 penalties during this World Cup," Kovac said.

He accused the referee of bias towards the home team. "I had a feeling that the referee had one set of rules for us and the other for Brazil. I don't want to talk about referees but everybody saw how he did his job. He didn't have respect for Croatia. He's not good enough to be a referee in such a important game," he said.

He called his decision as "robbery". "If that was a penalty than we don't have to play football anymore. This is not basketball. This was a robbery."

But Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari backed the referee. "It's up to the referee to decide if it's a penalty, for me it's also a penalty. I watched maybe 10 times of the play andI think it's a penalty," he said.

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