FIFA World Cup: Brazil press says 'arigato' for Japanese referee

Rio de Janeiro: Brazil's media on Friday saw Lady Luck as having had a hand in the hosts' World Cup win over Croatia with one news outlet even thanking the Japanese referee for awarding a controversial penalty.

Brazil roared back from Marcelo's own goal and crucially took the lead through Neymar's penalty after Japanese official Yuichi Nishimura judged Croatia defender Dejan Lovren had shoved Fred. That turned the tide as Brazil went on to win the Sao Paulo clash, 3-1, sports daily Lance said.

"The Cup is ours. Neymar is ours. Oscar (who scored the third goal) is ours. Croatia's goal is ours. And the ref is ours too," the paper observed. "Everything is ours!"

Globo daily also gave Nishimura credit with a headline that said simply: "Arigato! (thank you in Japanese)."

"The Japanese saw a non-existent penalty on Fred," Globo added, while a commentary in the same paper concluded Brazil had achieved "a deserved win by undeserved means."

Folha de Sao Paulo daily also focused on Nishimura's generosity to the Selecao.

"With a non-existent penalty, Brazil wins the opener," the paper said, contradicting assertions in some newspapers in Argentina, the team's bitterest rivals, that Brazilian media had glossed over the penalty award. O Estado de Sao Paulo picked up on boos at the match for President Dilma Rousseff, who is seeking re-election in October. "Brazil fight back to beat Croatia; fans show hostility to Dilma," said the paper.

Porto Alegre paper O Correio do Povo highlighted Chelsea star and new father Oscar, who got on the scoresheet with the clinching third goal. "Days after becoming a father, Oscar turned in a luxurious showing for the Selecao." Diaro do Nordeste saluted the team but insisted that "Brazil kicked off with a nervous victory".

Another northern paper, Diario de Pernambuco, chose a play on words, Neymaravilha (maravilha meaning marvel in Portuguese) for its headline, gushing over the Barcelona star's performance. But the paper admitted that "the referee made a mistake in our favor." The capital's Jornal de Brasilia opened up its coverage with a triumphant headline: "A brace from Neymar and a controversial penalty as Brazil bounce back from own goal."

Argentine daily Clarin was aghast at the penalty decision and asserted newspaper readers in Brazil "will have to read meticulously not to miss the key fact... the non-existent penalty (which) appears hidden between triumphant headlines in various Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo media." Argentine sports daily Ole insisted: "Brazil stole it -- with a top present from the Japanese ref. If they're going to carry on with this help then it it would best to warn us."

The paper showed a photo montage of Nishimura with the legend "Jajajaja... pones" -- ha ha ha ha, while 'japones' is Spanish for Japanese.

Rio daily O Dia meanwhile showed a grinning Neymar alongside the headline: "Smile, Brazil" as the country begins to bask in an event whose preparations have been marred by delay and social unrest. O Dia also highlighted Marcelo's faux pas with a cartoon captioned: "People never forget the first goal at a World Cup."

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