They didn’t play football: Croatia’s Dejan Lovren blasts France after FIFA World Cup 2018 loss

Croatia found themselves 2-1 down at half-time against France despite having dominated possession and conceded only one shot on target. Second-half strikes from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe settled the FIFA World Cup 2018 final in France’s favor

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren was scathing of France’s style of play following his side’s defeat in Sunday’s World Cup final. Didier Deschamps’ side claimed a 4-2 victory at Luzhniki Stadium to lift the game’s greatest prize for the second time in their history.

Croatia found themselves 2-1 down at half-time despite having dominated possession and conceded only one shot on target, with a Mario Mandzukic own goal and a contentious penalty converted by Antoine Griezmann putting France ahead.

Second-half strikes from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe settled the game, despite a late effort from Mandzukic, who capitalized on a mistake from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to make it 4-2. Belgium star Eden Hazard was deeply unimpressed with what he felt were overly cagey tactics by France in the semi-final, and Lovren also felt frustrated by their approach.

“I’m disappointed because we lost the game, we played much, much better football than them, but on the other hand I’m proud of this team and what we have achieved,” he said. “We played beautiful football again. France was one of the favorites to win the World Cup and they did it.

“I think we were better. They did it another way. They didn’t play football, they waited for their chances and they scored. They had their own tactic and you need to respect that. They played the tournament like that, every game, but when you look at all the countries behind us, we’re second.

“There’s nothing to talk about now. It’s difficult to describe. Maybe after a week or two, a couple of months… right now, it’s difficult. Some moments I feel sad, some moments I’m happy. Overall, I’m proud.”

Ivan Perisic conceded the first-half penalty after referee Nestor Pitana penalized him for handball following a VAR review. Lovren felt the decision was harsh but was hugely proud of the way Croatia tried to fight back in what was their first World Cup final.

“I was sure he would not give the pen,” said the Liverpool center-back. “From my point of view, he [Perisic] could not react.

“It was a critical moment, we came back at 1-1, and then this penalty and then 3-1, 4-1, but even then we didn’t stop playing football, we still believed, we gave everything, and this is why people are proud now in Croatia.”