At halftime: Own goal, Neymar score leave Brazil even with Croatia — FOLLOW LIVE

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source: APStory of the half: A slow start from the tournament favorites gave Croatia two chances within 11 minutes, the second of which ended in a Marcelo own goal. Just after the 20th minute, however, the true Brazil started to shine through, leading to a 29th minute equalizer from Neymar. Through the game reached the break 1-1, Brazil was on the front foot at the first half whistle.

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Goals (and how they happened):

11′ Marcelo (o.g.) – Ivica Olic’s ball rolled in from the left looked innocuous enough, but after Nikica Jelavic tipped the pass beyond a sliding David Luiz, Marcelo was caught off guard. His one-touch finish into his own net gave Croatia a shock lead. The was the first own goal in Brazil’s World Cup history. Croatia, 1-0.

29′ – Neymar – It looked like a speculative shot, especially when the Brazil star scuffed his try from 24 yards, but a slow reaction from Stipe Pletikosa saw Neymar’s shot take advantage of Arena Corinthians’ perfectly manicured pitch. The bouncing equalizer inched inside the lower-left hand corner. Even, 1-1.

Other key moments:

7′ – Even before Marcelo’s generosity, Croatia had a chance to draw first blood. Following a pass intercepted at the edge of Brazil’s attacking third turning, a quick opportunity from the right flank allowed Ivan Perisic to cross far post for Ivica Olic. The snap header went wide of the mark, but Croatia had served notice.

21′-22′- More of a span than a moment, but near the middle of the half, Brazil finally woke up. Bursting through the defense in the right of the box, Paulinho put a shot from 10 yards right at Stipe Pletikosa – Brazil’s first serious chance of the match. A minute later, a ball played from the byline by Neymar was tipped out to Oscar, who forced Pletikosa to punch a ball driven toward the keeper’s right post.

27′ – An arm to the head of Luka Modric showed Neymar’s disapproval of the Croatian’s new haircut. It also drew the tournament’s first yellow card. Neymar’s not a particularly foul-prone player, but he has been known to make the most of contact. Now, he’s one card away from being dismissed (or, in another game, earning a suspension).

Impact players

  • Ivica Olic, Croatia – the workhorse forward, deployed wide left, took advantage of a shaky right side of the Brazilian defense, earning an early chance and “assisting” on Marcelo’s 11th minute misstep.
  • Neymar, Brazil – Even before his equalizer, the Brazilian star had started to assert himself. Brought in from wide to play through the middle, the Selecao’s best player had little trouble finding the ball.

Question(s) for the second half:

  • Will Croatia pull back? – The underdogs started a relatively ambitious lineup, but with their success as the onset having waned, will (or, when) Croatia pull back and play for a point?
  • Can Brazil get Oscar involved? – Luiz Felipe Scolari moving Neymar to the middle pushed the Chelsea midfielder to a wide, somewhat anonymous position. If Oscar is not going to be more involved, Brazil may as well play somebody who can help protect Dani Alves.
  • How worrisome is that Brazilian right? – Dani Alves was poor on the Perisic cross, and the Croatia goal was built down the Croatia left. We can only take so much from a 45-minute stretch, but given what we knew about Alves coming into this tournament, how much problematic is the right side of Brazil’s defense?

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga