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World Cup: ‘Ridiculous’ penalty angers Croatia



Coach Niko Kovac said his Croatia team should “go home” after the way they were beaten 3-1 by Brazil in their 2014 Fifa World Cup opener.

Kovac was angered by referee Yuichi Nishimura awarding a penalty for Dejan Lovren’s challenge on Fred, despite there being minimal contact.

Neymar converted from the spot to give Brazil the lead for the first time. “If that’s how we start the World Cup, we better give it up now and go home,” Kovac said.

But Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari believed the referee was correct in awarding the penalty.

He said: “Millions didn’t see the penalty? The referee did and he said it was a penalty and they are the ones that must decide.

“We also think it was a penalty. I have seen it 10 times and I think it is a penalty.”

But Kovac disagreed, adding: “We talk about respect, that wasn’t respect, Croatia didn’t get any. If that’s a penalty, we don’t need to play football anymore. Let’s play basketball instead. It’s a shame.

“If you continue like this you will have 100 penalties. I think 2.5 billion people watching on TV saw this was not a penalty.

“This was ridiculous and if we continue in this way we will have a circus.” The decision came at a pivotal moment in the match with the sides level at 1-1. Brazil were dominating possession with Croatia holding out for what would have been a respectable opening draw for Kovac’s side.

But in the 69th minute Fluminense striker Fred received the ball in the middle of the box with his back to goal and went down under the challenge of Lovren.

“Fred is an 85kg man and I don’t believe he can be brought to the ground in such a manner,” added Kovac.

“I cannot blame Fred at all – everyone tries it on. Like it or not, this is part and parcel of football. What I want is for referees to stick to the laws of the game and apply them equally to both teams.”

Croatia took the lead through Marcelo’s own-goal but Neymar pulled the hosts level just before the half-hour. Barcelona forward Neymar scored Brazil’s second with their controversial penalty before Oscar poked in his team’s third.

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