News / Americas

    Brazil Beats Croatia, 3-1, in World Cup Opener

    Brazil players celebrate after scoring a third goal during the group A World Cup soccer match against Croatia in the opening game of the tournament at Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 12, 2014.
    Brazil players celebrate after scoring a third goal during the group A World Cup soccer match against Croatia in the opening game of the tournament at Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 12, 2014.
    Mike Richman
    Brazil has taken a first step toward winning the World Cup, as is hugely expected, but the host country needed a bit of help from a referee.

    After falling behind 1-0 to heavy underdog Croatia in the 11th minute, Brazil recovered to win, 3-1, in the opening game of the World Cup Thursday before 62,000 fans at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo.

    Brazilian superstar Neymar scored two goals, including one on a penalty kick, and teammate Oscar added an insurance score during injury time.

    The game was tainted by controversy. Neymar's penalty kick gave Brazil a 2-1 lead in the 71st minute and came after a questionable call when teammate Fred fell in the area. Television replays showed Fred threw himself to the ground after minimal contact with Croatian defender Dejan Lovren. Croatian players charged the referee to plead their case but to no avail.

    A 'ridiculous' call

    Afterward, Croatia's coach, Niko Kovac, was angry with the referee who made the call, Yuichi Nishimura of Japan. Kovac said Nishimura's decision to award the spot kick to Neymar was "ridiculous" and said the referee was "out of his depth."

    "I cannot blame Fred because everybody tries to do that," Kovac said. "This is part of the sport, whether you like it or not. What I want is for the referees to stick to the laws of the game, applying them equally to both teams. The referee was well-placed; he was not unsighted.  He saw everything and he took that decision."

    Nishimura later nullified Croatia's potential tying goal in the 83rd minute by ruling that Ivica Olic fouled Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar during the sequence.

    Croatia took the lead initially in the world's premier sporting event when Brazilian defender Marcelo inadvertently kicked the ball into his own goal.  

    Brazil's Group A match against Croatia was the only game Thursday. On Friday, Mexico and Cameroon clash in Natal in another Group A game, while defending champion Spain plays the Netherlands in Salvador and Chile faces Australia in Cuiaba in Group B matchups.

    Spain beat the Netherlands, 1-0 in overtime, in the 2010 World Cup championship.

    Spain aiming for another championship

    Spain's goalie, Ikar Casillas, voiced confidence Thursday that his country can repeat as World Cup champions.

    "I understand that any team playing Spain will do anything to beat us," Casillas said.  "I think this is also in ourselves. If we have the ambition, the willingness, and more than anything the dream which made us world champion four years ago. The team will show itself to be strong and will show itself with clear ideas. We intend to go as far as possible and defend this title we won four years ago, which won't be easy."

    Brazil is the consensus favorite and is seeking a record sixth World Cup title and its first since 2002. The Brazilians are ranked third in the world by World Cup organizer FIFA behind Spain at No.1 and Germany in the second spot.

    Other teams expected to challenge for this year's trophy include Argentina, Brazil's neighbor and fierce rival, along with European giants Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal.

    Thursday's game followed an elaborate opening ceremony at the Arena Corinthians featuring American pop star Jennifer Lopez -also known as J-Lo - Brazilian pop star Claudia Leitte and rapper Pitbull.

    The tournament is played in two stages. The first lasts two weeks, with four teams in each of eight groups playing games against one another. The top two teams in each group then move on to a single elimination bracket, with a champion to be crowned on July 13.

    Germany, which is aiming for its fourth World Cup title, is in the so-called "Group of Death" with fourth-ranked Portugal, the United States and Ghana, all of which made it to the round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup.  Another group to watch is the only other to feature more than one top-10 team.  It consists of seventh-ranked Uruguay, ninth-ranked Italy,10th-ranked England and No. 28 Costa Rica.

    Protests continue

    VOA's Scott Bobb reports hundreds of people gathered in downtown Rio de Janeiro to protest social policies and the billions of dollars Brazil spent on football stadiums.  The demonstrators, saying they plan to protest throughout the World Cup, say officials are neglecting the social services of Brazil.

    In Sao Paulo, dozens of protesters clashed with police near the Arena Corinthians stadium, which hosted the opening match.  The run-up to the competition has been plagued by years of construction delays and budget overruns.

    The government spent $11.5 billion to prepare for the month-long event, including building or upgrading stadiums in 12 cities hosting games among the 32-team field.

    You May Like

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.

    More Americas News

    Canada Ending Airstrikes in Iraq, Syria

    Canadian PM Trudeau said a campaign of airstrikes is useful for bringing short-term gains, but not for long-term stability

    Cuban Baseball Stars, the Gurriel Brothers, Abandon Team

    A record 150 baseball players defected last year; Gurriels deemed exceptional loss because of skill, fame and perceived loyalty

    Colombia: Rebels Must Free Hostages Before Any Peace Talks

    National Liberation Army (ELN) has been holding civilian Ramon Jose Cabrales, of eastern Norte de Santander province, for five months

    Canada to End Bombing Missions in Iraq, Syria

    Public opinion polls show Canadians are sharply divided over the role of their country's military in the fight against Islamic State

    USOC: US Athletes Should Stay Home if Worried About Zika

    US Olympic Committee tells sports federations that athletes and staff concerned for their health over virus should consider not going to Rio Games

    Haiti's President Leaves Office Without a Successor

    Embattled Haitian President Michel Martelly left office Sunday as required by Haiti's constitution, ending his 5-year term with no one elected to replace him