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Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic has hit out at the officials in charge of the 2018 FIFA World Cup final following their decision to award France a controversial penalty in their eventual 4-2 win.
The referee initially decided not to award the spot-kick but overturned that call after consulting video replay, and in Dalic’s view, it was a massive mistake. Per ESPN, he said:
“We played well but the penalty knocked the wind out of us and after that it was very difficult. I just want to say one sentence about that penalty: You don’t give a penalty like that in a World Cup final.
“We wanted to win the World Cup so much but that’s football. The French did not surprise us, we let in two soft goals coupled with an own goal and a penalty.”
He wasn’t the only member of the Croatian team who criticised the decision, as Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren also chimed in (for British viewers only):
ITV Football @itvfootball
“From my point of view, Perisic couldn’t react”
Dejan Lovren has his say on the contentious first-half penalty decision
#CRO #FRACRO #LFC #WorldCup https://t.co/LAQOBIIhva
The score was 1-1 when Ivan Perisic made contact with the ball with his hand in an unnatural position. The path of the ball was shielded by Samuel Umtiti, however, making it impossible for the Croat to see it or move his hand out of the way in time.
Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana initially opted not to award a penalty, but the VAR officials urged him to have another look. After a lengthy review, he changed his mind, and that did not sit well with plenty of fans and pundits:
Jacqui Oatley @JacquiOatley
So @clattenburg1975 says it should not have been a penalty as Perisic’s hand was in natural position. Roy Keane says “disgraceful decision – bet the ref’s never played football in his life”. @itvfootball
Oliver Kay @OliverKayTimes
People on my timeline — and yours, I expect — split on whether that should have been a penalty. For what it’s worth, I’d say no; it clearly wasn’t deliberate and Perisic hand wasn’t in an unnatural position. Handball guidelines are so ridiculously vague, though. #FRA 2-1 up
Antoine Griezmann converted, making it 2-1, and France were never threatened in the second half, scoring two more goals on their way to their second world title.
It was a disappointing end to a great tournament for the Croats, who made plenty of new fans with their exciting style of play and many comebacks.