ST PETERSBURG (REUTERS, AFP, NYTIMES) - Brazil coach Tite warned his country not to heap too much responsibility on Neymar's slight shoulders after the forward was seen crying after their 2-0 World Cup win over Costa Rica on Friday (June22).
Brazil scored twice in stoppage time to top Group E but Neymar, who got involved in discussions with the referee and was awarded a penalty that was rescinded by the video analysis referee (VAR), looked emotionally frail throughout, often gesticulating and falling down when tackled.
The penalty was revoked during the second half after the referee looked at a video replay and realised Neymar had flopped in the area to win it.
Moments later, Neymar was booked for petulantly punching the ball in front of Kuipers as Costa Rica players sprawled out on the turf time-wasting.
Neymar’s temper threatened to boil over as his frustrations grew at Brazil’s lack of ability to finish as much as at Costa Rica’s resistance. When he curled wide a glorious chance midway through the second half, he hid his face inside his blue Brazil shirt in anguish.
Tite said his tears at the end of the match could be down to the huge pressure of leading the five-time world champions.
"The joy, the satisfaction, and the pride of representing the Brazilian national team is a lot," Tite told reporters.
"He has the responsibility, the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. We each show it in our own way."
"He was 3½ months out (with injury) and he played the full match," Tite added, referring to the foot injury that kept the Paris St Germain player on the sidelines between February and June.
"He is a human being, he needs time to reach his high standards again but before that, there is a team that needs to be strong and not dependent on him.
"Is he going to be back to his best? Yes, he is going to be back to his best."
Neymar, who could visit Singapore next month with PSG for the International Champions Cup tournament, posted on Instagram moments after Tite spoke.https://twitter.com/amandahbsousa/status/1010366747537477632
"The tears were of joy, of overcoming difficulties, of commitment and will to win," he wrote. "Nothing in my life was ever easy and that's not going to change now. The dream continues, no not the dream, the OBJECTIVE."
His emotional reaction added even more drama to an incredible finale as Coutinho put Brazil ahead in the 91st minute before the world’s most expensive player added a second at the death.
Tite said Brazil should have been awarded the penalty that was chalked off by the VAR.
"When he (Neymar) draws the foul, he is in front of goal," Tite said. "It is clear, it is not open to interpretation, the touch robs him of the possibility of him finishing. To me, it is a penalty.
"We don't need referees to win the game, we just want them to be fair. They should be fair for everyone. We don't want help, Brazil doesn't need help."
Tite didn’t escape unscathed, either. Rushing the field to celebrate the first goal, he got tripped up and tumbled to the grass.
“I kind of pulled a muscle,” he said later. “It tore some fibers. I’m limping during the celebration.”