Samara (Russia) (AFP) – Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio hit out at Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi’s handling of their 2-0 World Cup quarter-final loss to Brazil, claiming Neymar play-acted.

Neymar broke the deadlock with a 51st minute opener at Samara Arena and set up Roberto Firmino for a late second.

But tensions flared following a tussle with midfielder Miguel Layun as Mexico battled to stay in the tournament. 

Brazil coach Tite said Layun had “stepped” on Neymar.

But Neymar’s exaggerated reaction — the player dramatically writhed on the turf after Layun approached him — suggested a repeat of the play-acting that marred his play in the group phase.

The 56-year-old Osorio refused to identify Neymar by name following the defeat but claimed the play-acting, and the ensuing delays in play, had been badly handed by Rocchi.

“I think it’s a shame for football,” said Osorio.

“We wasted a lot of time because of one single player… we lost our style in the second half, because of the referee.

“There were too many stoppages and my players got more and more tired of that situation. At one point there was a four-minute stoppage.

“I think this is a very bad example for the world and the world of football.”

Neymar, voted man-of-the-match, was stopped by Tite afterwards as he was about to reply to reporters’ demands to clarify the incident.

Tite was adamant: “They stepped on him. I saw it on the screen.”

Neymar attempted to play down the incident.

“Look, I think it’s more an attempt to undermine me than anything else,” said the Brazilian.

“I don’t care much for criticism, or praise, because this can influence your attitude.

“In the last two matches I didn’t talk to the press because I don’t want to I just have to play, help my teammates, help my team.

“I’m here to win. I can always improve. Today I feel much better and I’m very happy for this win.”

As Brazil get set to face Japan or Belgium, who play later, for a place in the semi-finals, Mexico return home after the last 16 for the seventh consecutive edition.

Despite his complaints about Neymar, who now has two goals in this tournament, Osorio suggested Mexico’s main problem had been Brazil’s superior firepower.

“I’d like to say that playing at such a level against a team like Brazil, Mexico have shown they are a top team,” he added.

“I think Mexican football needs to have more players playing abroad, so they can match themselves up against the best.

“I’m deeply sorry for our fans, they’re the best fans in the world.”