SAO PAULO, Brazil -
Croatia's Dejan Lovren says organizers may as well give the World Cup to Brazil right now after he conceded a controversial penalty in his side's 3-1 defeat to the host nation.
Brazil striker Fred went down in the penalty area under slight contact from Lovren in the 71st minute, allowing Neymar to convert a spot kick that gave Brazil a decisive 2-1 lead in Thursday's tournament opener.
Lovren said referee Yuichi Nishimura's decision was a "big shame" and that "if it is like this, then we can give the World Cup directly to Brazil."
His coach Niko Kovac described the decision as "shameful", while other Croatia players also expressed outrage.
Fellow defender Vedran Corluka said the penalty was "embarrassing" and that "everyone saw that every 50-50 decision" went Brazil's way.
For some referees, Neymar might not have been on the field to take the spot-kick, nor even level the match in the 29th minute.
Nichimura showed the Brazil star just a yellow card in the 26th minute for pushing a forearm into the throat of Croatia playmaker Luka Modric.
Four years ago, the 42-year-old professional referee sent off Brazil defender Felipe Melo in its quarter-final exit against the Netherlands.
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