Soccer: Brazil’s Neymar limps off injured in friendly win over Qatar


(Reuters) – Brazil lost Neymar to an early ankle injury but were still too strong for Asian champions Qatar on Wednesday in a comfortable 2-0 friendly win in Brasilia.

Striker Neymar limped off in the 17th minute after he appeared to twist his ankle and was carried to the dressing room with his right ankle wrapped in ice.

Brazilian TV said he was taken to hospital for a scan and the gravity of the injury just nine days ahead of Brazil’s Copa America opener against Bolivia was not clear.

“Ney is a great guy,” said his team mate Philippe Coutinho, who was voted man of the match.

“I hope the injury isn’t anything serious so he can get back training as soon as possible. He’s a very important player for our squad.”

The injury capped a horrible few days for the Paris St-Germain striker, who was stripped of the captaincy last month and was last weekend accused of rape in a case that has dominated the headlines in his homeland.

Brazil were already leading 1-0 when Neymar departed, courtesy of Richarlison’s 16th minute header, and Gabriel Jesus added the second eight minutes later from close range.

The five-times world champions were rarely troubled by a limited Qatar side, who missed a VAR-assisted penalty in injury time.

“We won and the feeling is that we won well,” Coutinho added. “We pressured them and we did what we wanted to do.”

Once again, though, all attention was focused on Neymar, the world’s most expensive player and a polarising figure in the football world.

The controversial striker has suffered several serious injuries dating back to 2014, when a brutal knee in the back from Colombian Juan Camilo Zuniga kept him out of Brazil’s World Cup semi-final defeat by Germany.

He injured a metatarsal in his right foot that sidelined him in the months leading up to the 2018 World Cup and an injury to the same foot in January forced him to miss the business end of this season with Paris St-Germain.

Brazil face Bolivia in their Copa America opener on June 14 in Sao Paulo.

Reporting by Andrew Downie, editing by Nick Mulvenney

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