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.”