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Football Extras: Neymar risks Euro ban as UEFA to investigate his VAR criticism

Last updated on: March 13, 2019 20:54 IST

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Neymar

IMAGE: Paris St Germain's Neymar. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Paris St Germain forward Neymar will be investigated by UEFA for lashing out at the video assistant referee (VAR) system after their Champions League exit to Manchester United last week, European soccer's governing body said on Wednesday.

The Brazilian, sidelined by injury, was infuriated by a late penalty awarded to United in PSG's last-16 second-leg defeat in Paris which saw them go out on away goals and Neymar later called the VAR system a "disgrace".

 

"A disciplinary investigation has been initiated based on Article 31(3) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations in connection with statements made by PSG player Neymar," UEFA said.

"Information in respect of this investigation will be made available in due course," it added in the statement.

United, who had lost the first leg at Old Trafford 2-0, were awarded a stoppage-time penalty for handball against Presnel Kimpembe after the referee consulted VAR.

Marcus Rashford held his nerve to score and seal a 3-1 victory for United which was enough for the visitors to progress on away goals after the tie ended 3-3 on aggregate.

Neymar missed both legs of the tie after injuring his foot in January.

PSG bounce back from European exit with Dijon win

Paris St Germain's Juan Bernat in action with Dijon's Cedric Yambere during their Ligue 1 match at Stade Gaston Gerard, Dijon, France, on Tuesday

IMAGE: Paris St Germain's Juan Bernat in action with Dijon's Cedric Yambere during their Ligue 1 match at Stade Gaston Gerard, Dijon, France, on Tuesday. Photograph: Emmanuel Foudrot/Reuters

Paris St Germain returned to action for the first time since their traumatic Champions League exit to crush Dijon 4-0 and extend their Ligue 1 advantage to 17 points on Tuesday.

PSG made four changes to the starting lineup that lost 3-1 at home to Manchester United in the Champions League Round of 16 last Wednesday although Presnel Kimpembe, who conceded a last-gasp penalty via a disputed VAR decision, was retained.

If the French champions needed a gentle return to action they got their wish with struggling Dijon offering little once Marquinhos gave Thomas Tuchel's side a seventh-minute lead.

 

Kylian Mbappe doubled PSG's advantage shortly before halftime after good work by Angel di Maria.

Di Maria's exquisite free kick made it 3-0 five minutes after the interval and Mbappe was then denied by the woodwork before Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting rounded off a comfortable night's work with PSG's fourth goal in stoppage time.

Tuchel praised his side's reaction after last week's meltdown against United when they allowed a 2-0 first-leg victory to be overturned by injury-hit opposition.

"The team reacted well, it was a first step," he said.

"The challenge was to show we react like champions. It's been a tough few days, but to respond, to show we are a united team with a special spirit, was an obligation."

PSG have 74 points from 27 games with second-placed Lille on 57 from 28.

Poland's Lewandowski says Bayern could be his last European club

Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski, who recently became the Bundesliga's all-time top foreign scorer, said on Wednesday the lure of breaking more records could make him pledge his future to the German champions.

Media reports last year said the Poland captain, who now has 197 Bundesliga goals to his name taking him past Claudio Pizarro as the highest scoring non-German, was looking for a transfer as he sought a new challenge in his career.

"I can imagine it (Bayern being my last European club), because it's a great city, a great club that will develop even more from next season. I want to break more records, the thought that I could make my mark on the pages of history could make me stay in Munich," Lewandowski was quoted as saying by przegladsportowy.pl.

The striker's immediate task will be to help Bayern overcome Liverpool at home in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie later on Wednesday. The sides played out a 0-0 draw in the first leg in England.

"This (winning the Champions League) is definitely my dream, but if we do not get into the final, I will not write this season off. If I do not succeed, I will keep trying," Lewandowski said.

When asked if he would keep trying as a Bayern player he replied: "We'll see, there have not been any talks yet".

Injured Cavani to miss Uruguay's trip to China

Injured Paris St-Germain striker Edinson Cavani has been left out of the Uruguay squad for upcoming matches in the China Cup, the country's football association said on Tuesday.

Cavani, who injured his hamstring in February, returned for a last-minute appearance in PSG's elimination by Manchester United last week but officials said they preferred to let him recover rather than make the long trip to Asia.

Luis Suarez will make the journey and the 23-man squad contained no other major surprises with all bar Penarol full-back Giovanni Gonzalez playing their club football outside Uruguay.

The South Americans play Uzbekistan in the first semi-final of the China Cup in Nanning on March 22 and then either China or Thailand in a second game three days later.

Deco warns defenders that VAR is watching them

Defenders who try to impede an opponent with a sly tug of the shirt or push in the back must remember that VAR is watching them, former Porto, Barcelona and Portugal midfielder Deco told Reuters in an interview.

The new video technology has already sparked debate during its first month of use in the Champions League but Deco said it is something he would have welcomed during his playing days.

"I would like to have played with VAR, I think it would have helped me," he said, adding that he was not worried about how long it took to make decisions.

"Look at it the other way... I wouldn't want to lose a title to a goal that should not have been given, that is really frustrating.

"Everyone goes home and then sees on television that, because of a mistake, you missed the chance to play in a final, or to win a title."

As an example, Deco cited the late extra-time penalty which gave his former team Porto a 4-3 aggregate win over AS Roma in their Champions League round of 16 tie last week.

Roma fullback Alessandro Florenzi tugged Porto forward Fernando's shirt as he tried to meet a ball across the face of the goal and, although the referee did not see it, it was caught by the video assistant.

"Players will adapt to that sort of situation with time," said Deco, during the Geneva car show at the start of the first-ever Europa League trophy tour.

"The forward (Fernando) would probably not have got to the ball but the defender pulled his shirt because it hadn't occurred to him that there was another pair of eyes watching in addition to the referee.

"It was a silly penalty to give away because he didn't need to do it and players behave like that because they think the referee can't see, but that has now changed," added the former player, who is an ambassador for the Europa League.

"Over time, they will become more aware that they are being watched."

Deco was born in Brazil but moved to Portugal early in his career, obtained citizenship and made 75 appearances for his adopted country, playing at two World Cups.

Many young players today also have the choice of playing for one or more national teams. It often proves a difficult decision and one that stirs emotions both in the country they chose to represent and the one they turn down.

"I don't want to give advice because it's a very personal matter," said Deco.

"I think I could have played for Brazil at the 2006 World Cup, it would have been natural (to be picked) given my career at Barcelona, but it was a personal decision.

"I wanted to play for Portugal and I thought it was the best thing to do at that moment," he said.

"I have a connection with Portugal, I like the country.

"If I had a Portuguese passport but no relationship with Portugal... or if it was Italy or Spain where I didn't have much of a connection with the national team, I don't know if I would play for them.

"But I can't criticise those who do because it's the player's personal decision."

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