LIVERPOOL — Brazil soccer star Neymar said he was “very happy” to have made a goal-scoring comeback in a 2-0 friendly victory over Croatia on Sunday, but insisted he was only firing at “80 percent”.
“It’s been three months that I’ve been injured,” said Neymar, with the World Cup to start in Russia in nine days.
“To come back and do what I love the most, playing football, and furthermore to score a goal, is an immense joy. I’m very happy.”
The Paris Saint-Germain forward appeared as a half-time replacement for Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho as the Selecao stepped up their World Cup preparations.
And Neymar needed just 23 minutes at Liverpool’s Anfield ground to prove how important he is to Brazil’s hopes of a sixth world title.
Receiving a pass from Philippe Coutinho, Neymar cut into the area, beating Sime Vrsaljko and Duje Caleta-Car with impressive close control and dribbling, before burying a shot into the roof of the goal, via the crossbar, from the edge of the six-yard area.
But he added: “I still feel a little pain, but that’s normal when you spend so much time not walking.
“I feel at 80 percent of my capacity.”
After his goal, Neymar made sure to head to the Brazil bench to embrace team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar, who operated on his foot fracture three months ago.
“It was to thank him. Not only Lasmar, but also Rafa and Rica (his physiotherapist and physical trainer). They’ve been there 24 hours a day with me. “I want to thank all the people who’ve been important for me.”
And Neymar proved his fitness for the 2018 Soccer World Cup with an explosive return to action that left Brazil manager Tite stunned as the superstar’s superb strike inspired Sunday’s win over Croatia. — AFP