Brazil deserved penalty and win: Fred
Brazil striker Fred insisted Friday that Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura was right to give a controversial penalty in their opening World Cup win over Croatia.
The kick, converted by Neymar, set Brazil on the way to a 3-1 win, but unleashed a storm after Nishimura ruled Croatian defender Dejan Lovren had pushed Fred.
"It was clearly a penalty," said Fred, pointing out FIFA`s refereeing commission chief had seen an apparent shove. Television replays indicated little contact between Lovren and the Brazil centre forward.
"There`s no such thing as a more or less penalty," Fred said in a video statement on the Brazilian Football Confederation website. The striker said that after receiving the ball and trying to turn "I felt a weight on my shoulder and the ball went beyond my reach."
"I lost my balance and fell," he explained, adding a similar situation had arisen in Brazil`s warm-up match against Serbia.
On that occasion, he recalled he managed, while going to ground, to hook the ball into the net.
Brazil deserved their win, Fred said.
"We`re not going to let people take the shine off our win which was well-deserved, though very difficult, because the Selecao deserved this victory."
The Fluminense forward said Brazil had to come through some "nervous moments" and wanted to thank the fans "who backed us from start to finish."
He added that neither social tensions before the World Cup nor the penalty controversy would distract Brazil from their quest to win a sixth title.
"Everyone is very well prepared -- nothing will muddy our focus here," he said.
Argentininan legend Diego Maradona earlier blasted the spotkick award as "a gift -- but then, we are in Brazil."
Commenting on Venezuelan television, Maradona admitted there was a case for a penalty, but said Brazil got lucky.
"They say it wasn`t a penalty, though for me there was contact. But Fred made a meal of it. Brazil will have to improve a lot if they want to win the Cup," said the 1986 world champion.
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