Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic rues 'soft goals' and France penalty in World Cup final
Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic scored for Croatia in 4-2 defeat in Moscow
Last Updated: 16/07/18 8:08am
Croatia were left to rue "soft goals" and a controversial penalty call after losing the World Cup final 4-2 to France on Sunday.
Mario Mandzukic headed into his own net after 18 minutes and, although Ivan Perisic equalised, Antoine Griezmann made it 2-1 before half-time from the penalty spot.
Referee Nestor Pitana awarded the penalty for handball against Perisic after consulting with the Video Assistant Referee.
The decision was widely criticised by pundits and former players, and Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said: "I never comment on refereeing but let me say one sentence: in a World Cup final, you do not give such a penalty.
"But it in no way diminishes France's win. It was maybe the best game we played in these championships; we controlled the match but we conceded.
"Against such a strong side as France you must not make mistakes. We are a bit sad but we have to be proud as well for what we've done."
"We played well but the penalty knocked the wind out of us and after that it was very difficult.
"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."
Even though Croatia largely controlled possession, France scored twice more in the second half through Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe to move 4-1 ahead.
Mandzukic pulled a goal back after an error by France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, but Croatia could not get back into the match.
"We have no regrets because we were the better team for much of the game," said Croatia captain Luka Modric, who won the Golden Ball award for best player at the tournament.
"Unfortunately, some clumsy goals swung it their way. They will be celebrating but we can hold our heads high. When the emotions settle, we will be able to analyse more clearly.
"I am proud of the award. The incredible fan support makes me even happier. You know that despite the defeat you've achieved something big, but it's hard when you come so close and fall short."
Croatia full-back Sime Vrsaljko added: "We played our hearts out and have no regrets. I hope our fans felt it too. I think what we have accomplished will be remembered forever and we can be proud of ourselves.
"That includes our overall conduct, our performances and our fans who represented the country in the best possible way along with ourselves."