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Rediff.com  » Sports » Game Changer: Japanese ref riles Croatia with soft Brazil penalty

Game Changer: Japanese ref riles Croatia with soft Brazil penalty

June 13, 2014 04:09 IST

Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura endeared himself to Brazil fans with a contentious penalty award in the World Cup opener on Thursday, as Neymar put away the spot kick to give his side a 2-1 lead against Croatia late in the Group A opener.

Nishimura, who had had a solid game up until that point, pointed to the spot after Brazil's Fred went down under the slightest of challenges from Croat defender Dejan Lovren.

Furious Croatian players surrounded the Japanese official, who responded by showing a stunned Lovren a yellow card.

After the dust had settled, Neymar, who had pulled Brazil level after Marcelo's 11th minute own goal, squeezed an unconvincing penalty past Stipe Pletikosa as the stadium erupted in celebration.

Image: Referee Yuichi Nishimura speaks to Dejan Lovren, Vedran Corluka and Sime Vrsaljko of Croatia after awarding a penalty kick

Photograph:  Kevin Cox/Getty Images