Kovac: Ref favoured Brazil
13 June 2014, 15:57
Sao Paulo - Croatia coach Niko Kovac has accused the referee of favouring Brazil in their 2014 World Cup opener at Arena de Sao Paulo on Thursday.
Kovac's side took the lead on 11 minutes when Marcelo put past his own goalkeeper, but the five-time World Cup champions replied through Neymar just before the half-hour mark.
However, the major talking point of the encounter occurred in the second half when A Selecao were awarded a controversial penalty for a foul on Fred, although the contact from Dejan Lovren appeared very minimal.
Neymar converted from the spot to give the Samba Kings the lead with 19 minutes remaining, before Japanese match official Yuichi Nishimura made another crucial decision when he ruled out a Vatreni equaliser late on for a foul on Julio Caesar by Ivica Olic.
Oscar then sealed the 3-1 victory for Luiz Felipe Scolari's team in stoppage time, and Kovac laid into the ref afterwards, labelling his performance as "shameful" and "ridiculous".
He said: "If that was a penalty, we should be playing basketball. Those kinds of fouls are penalised there.
"That is shameful, this is not a World Cup referee. He had one kind of criteria for them and another for us. The rules were not the same.
"I don't think anybody, anywhere in the stadium, saw this as a penalty. 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."
Southampton defender Lovren also hit out at Nishimura over the penalty, saying: "I don't know for what he deserved to be here.
"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. I'm sad, that's it, because we played a good match and the referee - it wasn't a mistake, it was a scandal."
However, Scolari took a different view of the contentious 70th-minute incident, insisting the referee got the decision spot-on.
"Millions didn't see the penalty? The referee did and he said it was a penalty and they are the ones that must decide," he declared.
"We also think it was a penalty. I have seen it 10 times and I think it is a penalty."
- TEAMtalk Media
For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!