SAMARA, Russia (Reuters) - Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio was left incredulous following his side’s 2-0 defeat by a Neymar-inspired Brazil in the World Cup last-16 on Monday as he criticized Brazilian playacting and the match officials for allowing it.
After imposing themselves on the five time World Cup winners during a frenetic first 20 minutes, Mexico gradually faded from the game as Brazil took control with Neymar scoring one goal and providing an assist for substitute Roberto Firmino.
In trying to explain his team’s loss of intensity, Osorio blamed Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi for disrupting the game by awarding lenient fouls to Brazil.
He did not call out Neymar by name but it was clear which opposing player had particularly riled Osorio.
“Stats say we had 53 percent possession. I think we controlled the game mostly and unfortunately - and it is a shame for football - we wasted a lot of time because of one player.”
“We lost our style in the second half because of the refereeing style. There were too many stoppages.”
In particular, Osorio referred to an incident in the 72nd minute when Neymar clashed with Mexico substitute Miguel Layun on the touchline.
With Neymar already on the ground, Layun appeared to step on the Brazilian’s ankle with Neymar writhing theatrically in response.
Rocchi decided against punishing either player but Osorio was left angry with the amount of time taken up by the incident.
“There was a four-minute stoppage at one point and this is a very negative example for the world of football and all the children who are following the game,” said a clearly irritated Osorio.
“This should be a strong sport, a man’s sport. I think there shouldn’t be so much acting.”
“This had an impact on our pace.”
Osorio also suggested his team had a specific plan in dealing with Neymar but that it went out of the window due to the referee’s handing of the match.
“We wanted to play fair and just mark him and for the first 20 minutes we did a good job,” he said.
“We did a 50/50 challenge and got a yellow card (for Edson Alvarez) so then we changed it to Layun so we wouldn’t get another yellow card (for Alvarez).”
“We wanted just to play and compete.”
The defeat means Mexico have gone out of the World Cup in the last-16 in the last seven tournaments. To go one stage further, Osorio believes more Mexicans need to be playing in Europe’s top divisions.
“I would like to say once again that being able to play at this level against Brazil shows we are a good team,” he said.
“We want to keep developing and we hope our players can come to Europe and play (the) best teams in the world. Then our national team will improve.”
The Colombian, who does not have a contract with Mexico beyond this World Cup, would not talk about his future.
“I think this is an irrelevant thing right now,” he said.
“We just lost a very important match, which is painful for all of us. We will need to wait and see.”
“You will see what I decide soon.”
Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Ken Ferris