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World Cup 2014: Brazil v Croatia referee scandalous

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The referee who awarded Brazil a controversial penalty should not be officiating at the World Cup, says Croatia defender Dejan Lovren, reports.

The hosts won 3-1, but, with 20 minutes left and the score 1-1, Japan's Yuichi Nishimura ruled that Lovren had pulled down striker Fred.

Neymar scored from the spot before Oscar added a late third.

“If that's a penalty, we don't need to play football anymore... let's play basketball instead”

Croatia coach Niko Kovac

"This referee should not be at this World Cup," said Lovren. "It wasn't a mistake, it was a scandal."

The Southampton player added: "It's really disappointing for us because we were playing a good game against a big team.

"Two billion people I think saw that it was not a penalty. I didn't touch him.

"We're really disappointed but what can you do against 12 players? You can't do anything."

Watch highlights as Brazil beat Croatia 3-1 in the opening match of World Cup 2014

Fellow Croatia defender Vedran Corluka thought that the decision was "embarrassing".

"Brazil played well, but they didn't deserve to win in this way," said the former Manchester City and Tottenham player.

"It's ridiculous he was so keen to give the decision. It was difficult to accept."

Coach Niko Kovac said Croatia should "give up and go home".

He added: "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.

"That looked such a soft penalty. The referee has got most things right but he will be disappointed with that. There was not much tugging. Fred went down easily."

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

Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari believed the referee was right to award the spot-kick.

"Millions didn't see the penalty?" he asked. "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."

The decision came at a pivotal moment in the match.

Brazil were dominating possession with Croatia holding out for what would have been a respectable opening draw.

But then 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, before Neymar equalised just before the half-hour mark.

The Barcelona forward scored Brazil's second before Chelsea's Oscar toe-poked the third goal from 20 yards in the 90th minute.

June 13 2014, 18:45

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