FIFA World Cup 2018: Neymar's reply to critics - I am here to win!
Brazil's 2-0 victory over Mexico was the Neymar show as the forward scored the first - his 57th international goal in 89 appearances - before setting up the second for substitute Roberto Firmino late in the match
Neymar claimed his critics are trying to undermine him after he sizzled in the baking Samara heat to send Brazil into the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Brazil's 2-0 victory over Mexico was the Neymar show as the forward scored the first - his 57th international goal in 89 appearances - before setting up the second for substitute Roberto Firmino late in the match.
But Neymar's behaviour came under scrutiny again after he was previously accused of play-acting in Russia. Mexico substitute Miguel Layun trod on Neymar's ankle in the 73rd minute, escaping a possible red card, but Neymar's reaction was exaggerated in the extreme as he writhed around on the floor.
But when asked if claims that he is a diva were unfair, Neymar said: "Look, I think it's more of an attempt to undermine me than anything else. I don't care much for criticism, not even from the press because in a way this can influence athletes. The last two matches I didn't talk to the press because there's so many people talking. I just want to play and help my teammates and that's what I am here for, nothing else. I am here to win and I hope I can improve."
Although Brazil were unbeaten in the group stage and topped their section, Neymar looked short of his best as he worked his way back to full fitness. Neymar sprained his ankle and fractured his fifth metatarsal playing for Paris St Germain in February and only returned to action just ahead of the World Cup. But he was back to his best at the Samara Arena, as Brazil overtook Germany as the World Cup's highest scorers.
"I knew that I was going to need time to get back to my normal pace, but today I feel much better," Neymar said. "I'm happy for the match, not only individually but also for the whole team. I congratulate them on their efforts and we are improving all the time."
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From Neymar's antics to Croatian courage: FIFA WC 2018 Highlights