Dejan Lovren was at the centre of a controversial decision at the start of the World Cup finals on Thursday night.
Lovren’s Croatia took a shock early lead against Brazil in Sao Paulo through an own goal from Marcelo after eleven minutes of action.
Neymar levelled the scores before half-time in the opening match of Group A with a sweeping effort from 25 yards, but the match hinged on the award of a 71st minute penalty when Fred went to ground in front of Lovren. Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura booked the Saints man and then pointed to the spot, even though replays showed that little contact had been made.
Neymar dispatched the spot kick for his second strike of the game, and the win was made safe by Chelsea midfielder Oscar’s last minute finish from the edge of the area for a final scoreline, which in truth, flattered the hosts.
While there were many eye-catching individual performances on the night on both sides, the post-match attention centred on the match officials, and Lovren didn’t hold back on his assessment of Mr Nishimura’s performance.
The Southampton defender told reporters: “I’m so sad I want to cry. Everyone has seen it, it’s a scandal for Fifa.
“We talk about respect – the Fifa people spoke to us about it – and what happens? It is better the cup is given immediately to Brazil.”
Croatia coach Niko Kovač, who branded the spot kick award as, “ridiculous” added:
“If you continue in this vein then there will be 100 penalties during this World Cup.”