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Neymar blames PSG's handling of injury for poor form in Dortmund defeat

Paris Saint-Germain's star Neymar tries to wriggle his way past three defenders on a frustrating night in Dortmund.
Paris Saint-Germain's star Neymar tries to wriggle his way past three defenders on a frustrating night in Dortmund. © Wolfgang Rattay, REUTERS

Neymar has criticised Paris Saint-Germain's handling of his recent injury after the Parisians slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, a disappointing result that leaves the French club facing the prospect of yet another early Champions League exit.

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After missing four games in the last fortnight with a rib injury, the Brazilian superstar looked short of match fitness in Tuesday's last-16, first-leg, defeat at Dortmund.

The home side's Norwegian goal-machine Erling Braut Haaland scored twice to make him the Champions League joint top-scorer, but Neymar gave PSG a lifeline for the second leg in Paris on March 11.

The Brazilian tapped home for what could prove a crucial away goal after being set up by France striker Kylian Mbappe in the second half. 

However, Neymar's goal couldn't conceal the fact that the world's most expensive player had been thoroughly upstaged by Haaland and his teammate Jadon Sancho, both aged 19.

After the game, Neymar was critical of his club for not letting him play more before Tuesday's clash.

"It's hard to go four games without playing," the 28-year-old told reporters. 

"Unfortunately it wasn't my choice, it was the choice of the club, of the doctors, they made that decision, which I didn't like," Neymar added.

"We had a lot of discussions about it because I wanted to play, I felt good, but the club was afraid and in the end it was me who suffered," he said.

'Get back into the rhythm'

Big-spending PSG are desperate to avoid exiting the Champions League at the first knockout round for a fourth season in a row.

Neymar's presence on Tuesday was a major boost for his team, after he missed last season's surprise defeat to Manchester United with a foot injury.

He also sat out the second leg of their defeat by Real Madrid at the same stage in 2018.

PSG's German coach Thomas Tuchel admitted Neymar's lack of match fitness had been a factor in the defeat to Dortmund, but said his team still has time to find their form.

"Neymar hadn't played for a fortnight, but he is very important for Kylian (Mbappe), there is harmony between them and if Neymar lacks rhythm, it's immediately noticeable," said Tuchel.

"It's difficult, but we still have a few games left to get back into the rhythm," he added.

His counterpart Lucien Favre acknowledged that Tuesday's first leg gives Dortmund only a slender advantage with PSG's passionate home fans set to get behind their team in the return match.

"Of course it's a dangerous result, but we played well in both defence and attack," said Dortmund's Swiss coach.

He added: "However, as things stand it's 2-1 to us."

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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