Croatia Manager Zlatko Dalic Rues VAR Penalty Call After ‘Unlucky’ World Cup Final Defeat to France

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Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic was gracious in defeat after his side lost 4-2 to France in Sunday’s FIFA World Cup final in Moscow. 

From a neutral perspective, Sunday’s clash was the most entertaining World Cup final for several decades. Ivan Perisic’s first half stunner cancelled out an early Mario Mandzukic own goal, but France went on to score three times before Mandzukic found the net at the right end of the pitch.

Speaking to a news conference after the game, and quoted by Reuters, Dalic said: “First of all I want to congratulate France. We are sad but proud at the same time.”

Les Bleus’ second goal came from a hotly disputed Antoine Griezmann penalty, which Dalic identified as the turning point in the match. “We played well but the penalty knocked the wind out of us and after that it was very difficult,” he explained.

Dalic also made it clear that he disagreed with the referee’s decision to penalise Perisic for handling in the penalty area. “You don’t give a penalty like that in a World Cup final,” he said, although he added: “I respect the referee, he made the decision he thought was right.”

The referee only awarded France a penalty after consulting VAR, which prompted Dalic’s wry remark: “On VAR, when it goes in your favour it’s good, when it goes against you it’s bad.”

Dalic also acknowledged that his side could have defended better at times, dismissing Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe’s second half strikes as ‘two soft goals’. However, he insisted that bad luck was a major factor in Croatia’s defeat. “What we had in terms of luck in this tournament, we lacked today,” he lamented.

However, Dalic finished on an upbeat note. “I’m proud of my players, I’m proud of my team, I’m proud of my country,” he declared, before being applauded as he left the news conference.

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