Croatia’s fortnight of toiling were sent crumbling down on Sunday night in rather fortuitous circumstances as they lost 2-4 to France in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia final.
Most of the talking point in the final centred around the second goal conceded by the Europeans, a VAR-induced penalty call. Ivan Perisic adjudged to have handled inside the box.
Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann converted the spot kick late in the first half and Les Blues never looked back from then.
Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic as expected answered questions based on that decision and he mildly disagreed with the match officials’ decision.
“First I have to congratulate France for their title,” said a magnanimous Dalic.
“We played well in the first twenty minutes, we played well, we controlled the game, then there was this own goal from set-play. We came back into life, we dominated then the penalty was given.
“I never comment on refereeing but let me say one thing: In a World Cup final, you do not give such penalty but it in no way diminishes France’s win,” said the former Al Ain coach.
Seeing that the Croats twice needed the lottery of penalties to advance to the final stage of the competition, Dalic also believes that his team perhaps ran out of the luck that saw them through to the final.
“Maybe we were a bit unlucky.
“In the first six games, we might have been lucky but not today. I have to congratulate my players because this is the probably the best game we have played in this tournament.”
Croatia captain Luka Modric won the tournament’s Golden Ball – an award for the tournament’s overall best player. Dalic expressed pride in his players’ achievements at the final of the mundial.
“We controlled the match but we conceded, and against such a strong side, it is not good to make such mistakes.
“We are a bit sad but we have to be proud of what we have done. You can’t fault the performance and attitude of my players throughout the tournament and I’m sure everyone in Croatia would be proud of them too,” Dalic submitted.
Fisayo Dairo reporting from Moscow