Hungry Neymar is sensational: Tuchel

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar is one of the best players in Europe, according to his coach Thomas Tuchel. The Brazilian scored a hat-trick in his team's 6-1 Champions League win over Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar is one of the best players in Europe, according to his coach Thomas Tuchel. The Brazilian scored a hat-trick in his team's 6-1 Champions League win over Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • Prior to Paris Saint-Germain's meeting with Red Star Belgrade, Neymar had admitted that he was still feeling his way back to full fitness after being rushed back from foot surgery in May so that he could make Brazil's World Cup squad.

But, after the forward's "sensational" hat-trick to lead his side to a 6-1 home rout of the Serbian champions on Wednesday, his sublime display only served to whet PSG coach Thomas Tuchel's appetite.

"I really liked the effort made by the whole team, but Neymar was sensational," said the German.

"You can feel that he is hungry in every match, that he wants to be decisive, win the ball back, be at the heart of the play. He is one of the best players in Europe and that is very, very important for us."

Neymar tore Red Star apart with two goals in the space of two first-half minutes at the Parc des Princes, the first a delightful curling free kick, before completing his hat-trick with another late on.

Edinson Cavani, Angel di Maria and Kylian Mbappe also scored as PSG bounced back from a 3-2 loss at Liverpool two weeks ago to register their first points in Group C.

Red Star grabbed a consolation goal through Marko Marin, but they could not cope with their opponents, and such was the imbalance between the teams that PSG were never likely to be troubled despite playing this game with one end of the stadium closed.

The punishment was imposed by Uefa after their fans had lit flares and set off fireworks during the Champions League last-16 defeat by Real Madrid in March.

There was trouble again this time, with several hundred individuals involved in clashes with French police outside the venue.

But the biggest positive on the night was seeing Neymar, who labelled the thrashing as his and PSG's best performance so far, play with a smile on his face again.

It also bodes well for the future as the French Ligue 1 champions are hoping to lift their maiden Champions League trophy this campaign.

"Winning is the main thing that I want but, when I score goals, I am even happier," said Neymar after taking his season tally to 10 goals in nine games in all competitions.

While PSG have a tougher double-header to come next against Group C leaders Napoli, they know that with Neymar in a "good mood", anything is possible.

"He is on form in his game and now, he is almost at 100 per cent physically," Tuchel added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2018, with the headline 'Hungry Neymar is sensational: Tuchel'. Print Edition | Subscribe