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The Croatia defender was less than impressed by the performance of the Japanese official and suggested the hosts should be handed the trophy now

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren described referee Yuichi Nishimura’s performance in Thursday’s World Cup defeat to hosts Brazil as a “scandal” and claimed the European side were competing against “12 men” in Sao Paulo.

Nishimura caused controversy with a string of questionable decisions, culminating in the awarding of a highly dubious penalty – given against Lovren for an alleged foul on Fred  - from which Neymar put Brazil 2-1 up.

Neymar was lucky to escape a red card for an elbow on Luka Modric shortly before the Barcelona star equalised while Croatia also had a goal from Ivan Perisic chalked off for what the Japanese official deemed to be a foul on home goalkeeper Julio Cesar by Ivica Olic.

Although the final score read 3-1 to Brazil – Oscar grabbing a late third for the tournament favourites – Croatia, and Lovren in particular, were left feeling hard done by.

The Southampton defender told L’Equipe: “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.”

Asked if Croatia would have beaten Brazil had it not been for the spot-kick, Lovren added: “I think we played a good game and had the quality to compete with Brazil but not against 12 men.

“We looked at the pictures in the dressing room and everyone is still asking questions.”

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