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Croatia Coach Kovac Slams Referee

Croatia coach, Niko Kovac, has slammed Japanese referee, Yuichi Nishimura, for his penalty decision in the opening game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup on Thursday.

Croatia took an early lead courtesy of a Marcelo own goal, but a brace from Neymar (one of his goals coming from the penalty spot) and a 91st minute goal from Oscar handed Brazil the win.

Kovac took the opportunity to bemoan the penalty decision after the referee adjudged Dejan Lovren to have pulled Fred down inside the box. Neymar converted the controversial penalty to hand Brazil a 2-1 lead in the 71st miniute.

“I don't think anybody, anywhere in the stadium, saw this as a penalty,” said Covac.

“If you continue like this you will have 100 penalties. I think 2.5billion 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.

“Fred is an 85kg man and I don't believe he can be brought to the ground in such a manner.

“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.”

However, the Croatia coach says that he was still very proud of his team despite their 3-1 loss to the World Cup hosts, and is confident his team can still reach the knockout stages of the competition despite losing the first match in Group A.

“I really am very proud of Croatia despite the defeat because I know that we came up against a great team in every sense of the word,” he added.

“We left an excellent impression, hats off to the players. It's an honour to coach them.

“We put in a fantastic performance, from the first minute to the last.

“Brazil were very strong but we deserved at least a point.

“I’m proud because we showed that we can survive the group phase.”

Croatia will play their second game against Cameroon on 18 June.

For all the World Cup fixtures, please check our World Cup page.

What did you make of the referee's performance? Have your say in the comment section below.

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