Neymar Says He Played Injured for PSG in Champions League Clash with Liverpool

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2018

PSG players celebrate their victory, with Neymar wraring Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson' yellow jersey, after the Champions League Group C second leg soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Liverpool at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. PSG won 2-1. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Thibault Camus/Associated Press

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar has said he wasn't 100 per cent fit for his team's 2-1 win over Liverpool during Wednesday's UEFA Champions League action but that he had to take part in the pivotal match.

The Brazil international struggled with a knock leading up to the contest but dazzled on Wednesday, scoring and routinely making the Reds look silly with his trickery.

He told reporters there was no way he would miss the match: "I was not 100 per cent. But it was an important match so, injured or not, I had to be there."

Neymar scored PSG's second goal after Juan Bernat had opened the scoring, and his strike would prove the difference-maker. James Milner converted a penalty for the Reds.

The 26-year-old didn't feature in Saturday's win over Toulouse, leading to fears he would miss out on the most important match of PSG's season. But whatever knock bothered him ahead of the game didn't seem to slow him down on Wednesday:

UEFA Champions League @ChampionsLeague

✨ Henderson has Neymar where he wants him. Until this... 🤩 Skill of the Day: @neymarjr 👌 #UCL @Mastercard https://t.co/PgG0E40OUn

His goal also made him the highest-scoring Brazilian in the competition, surpassing AC Milan and Real Madrid legend Kaka:

UEFA Champions League @ChampionsLeague

🇧🇷 Neymar surpasses Kaká to become the all-time leading Brazilian goalscorer in the #UCL in his 52nd game 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/IpimPa3L5V

Not everyone enjoyed his outing, however. While Neymar dazzled with his technique, he also went to ground on numerous occasions, and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp accused the forward and his team-mates of diving in his post-match interview with BeIN Sports (h/t Metro):

"But so many interruptions in a game like this. Everyone knows what they want to do, especially what Neymar wants to do.

"They get 50 free-kicks. We look like butchers but we are a completely normal football team. They go down in every situation, it's unbelievable. That was really hard to deal with and didn't help us obviously."

Andrew Robertson lobbed similar criticism in his direction in an interview with Sky Sports:

"I would like to know how much time they wasted tonight. It's frustrating when [Neymar] is falling like he is.

"It's all part and parcel of his game and we needed to deal with that. We didn't quite control our aggression.

"Of course it was frustrating. But when you play against PSG you know it is something you are going to come up against especially with him. It wasn't something we quite dealt with tonight."

The Daily Mail's Dominic King was also unimpressed:

MailOnline Sport @MailSport

Same old Neymar, always acting: He will never be on a par with Messi and Ronaldo if he continues to dive and feign injury | @DominicKing_DM https://t.co/rrBNzHtO16 https://t.co/t27cQSOwcG

Wednesday's results meant three of Group C's four teams can still progress to the knockout stages on the final matchday. Napoli beat Red Star Belgrade 3-1 and lead PSG by one point and Liverpool by three.

The Partenopei will visit Anfield for their final contest knowing they will progress as long as they don't lose by a 1-0 scoreline or two clear goals. PSG need to beat Red Star in Serbia to be certain of a spot in the next round.