Referee Yuichi Nishimura from Japan gives penalty kick against Croatia during the group A World Cup soccer match between Brazil and Croatia, during the opening game of the tournament, in the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Fabrizio Bensch, Pool)

Corluka: “Just give Brazil the World Cup and everyone can go home”


Croatia defender Vedran Corluka spoke with a lot more force than the contact that drew a decisive penalty in his nation’s World Cup-opening loss to Brazil on Thursday.

Eventually losing 3-1 after a controversial-at-best penalty call against Dejan Lovren that drastically-altered the complexion of the game, Croatia was fuming at referee Yuichi Nishimura after the game.

The controversial incident came after a ball was played into the box, Brazilian striker Fred bodied up on Lovren before hitting the turf after what many would call minor upper body contact. Nishimura called the surprising penalty.

From Yahoo Sports’ Martin Rogers:

“If this continues, I think no one should play against Brazil,” Corluka told Yahoo Sports. “We can just give them the World Cup and everyone can go home. [Nishimura] shouldn’t be allowed to referee another game.”

“I think it is embarrassing. It is embarrassing. Everyone who was watching saw that nothing happens. I didn’t see anything. I saw a touch on [Fred’s] body but [Lovren] didn’t even pull him. [Nishimura] was keen to give the penalty.”

The call was questionable at best. Now Croatia sits at the bottom of its group before Mexico and Cameroon complete Group A’s first set of matches on Friday afternoon, and has to wonder whether it could’ve shut down the hosts for another half-hour to gain a point or more.

RELATED: Dive, poor officiating get 2014 World Cup off to bad start

Corluka was also critical of Nishimura communicating with players in Japanese, and was baffled that an English-speaking referee wasn’t assigned to the match (German and English are the two most-common languages, other than Croatian, spoken in Croatia).

Croatia head coach Niko Kovac blasted the call:

“It’s ridiculous,” Croatia coach Niko Kovac said afterwards. “If we continue in this way, we will have a circus.”

“Brazil doesn’t need any help from the referees.”

Yet they received it, and a tournament watched by many received an inauspicious debut.

VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
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Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.

Agent: Liverpool contacted Klopp only after Rodgers firing

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09:  Jurgen Klopp arrives to be unveiled as the new manager of Liverpool FC at a press conference at Anfield on October 9, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.

However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.

“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”

Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”

It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.