Brazil defends Neymar from diving criticism
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) -Neymar is not a diver, according to the Brazilian football confederation.
A day after the Brazil striker was accused of being "very apt at pretending to be fouled,'' the country's football association leapt to his defense.
"It's worth repeating that Neymar doesn't need to resort to diving to play the type of football that is enchanting the world,'' the Brazilian confederation said Wednesday in a statement.
Brazil beat Uruguay 2-1 Wednesday in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup, a warm-up tournament for next year's World Cup. And the soon-to-be Barcelona striker, who scored a goal in each of the team's three wins in the group stage, played a part in both goals at the Mineirao Stadium.
But on Tuesday, Uruguay defender Diego Lugano accused Neymar of being too soft, saying, "he can drop to the ground and fool the referees, and the rivals.''
The Brazilians have been hailing Neymar as the world's next great football player, and his image appears on television and on advertisements around the country. So it's no wonder the football association took exception to Lugano's comments.
"There's nothing more obsolete than this pre-match manifestation made by the Uruguayan defender,'' the Brazilians said. "Lugano is resorting to an attitude which has been used for a long time and doesn't fit into modern football.''
Neymar didn't score on Wednesday, but he was instrumental in the victory and drew the ire of some of the Uruguayan players before being substituted in injury time.
The first goal, scored by Fred in the 41st minute, came after Neymar's shot was blocked by Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. The second, scored by Paulinho in the 86th, came from Neymar's corner.
A few minutes before delivering the winning corner, Neymar exchanged what appeared to be angry words with Uruguay midfielder Alvaro Gonzalez.
Gonzalez had just been substituted and was limping around the corner flag as Neymar waited to deliver his kick. He then started speaking to the Brazilian.
Neymar responded, and then puckered his lips and blew a kiss to Gonzalez as he walked away. Neymar threw another smooch to Gonzalez seconds later, putting his open hand to his mouth.
"I just sent him a kiss,'' said Neymar, who declined to into further detail about the incident.
With the victory, Brazil advanced to the Confederations Cup final, where the team will face either Spain or Italy on Sunday at the Maracana Stadium.
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