Neymar admits he is wrong for hitting Rennes fan
Brazilian superstar loses his cool after Rennes stun PSG in French Cup final
Neymar accepted yesterday that he had made a mistake by striking a fan who insulted Paris Saint-Germain players as they went up the stadium's steps to collect their French Cup losers' medals.
Neymar scored to put PSG 2-0 up after 21 minutes at the Stade de France yesterday morning (Singapore time), but Rennes fought back to tie the game at 2-2 and win the penalty shoot-out 6-5 after extra time.
As the players proceeded to receive their medals, shaking the hands of those nearby, Neymar, one of the last in line, struck one of the fans in the face.
The blow was caught on numerous mobile phones, including that of the victim, Edouard, a 28-year-old delivery driver from Nantes.
"Did I act badly?" Neymar asked in an Instagram comment. "Yes. But no one can stay indifferent."
A Brazilian friend of Neymar's, Alex Bernardo, posted on Instagram a transcript of the comments audible on Edouard's video starting with unused reserve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and defender Layvin Kurzawa.
"Oh, Buffon, dirty Buffon! Oh, Kurzawa, keep your hand to yourself!"
Then to Marco Verratti: "Oh, racist!" and to Neymar: "Oh, go and learn to play football."
The Brazilian superstar reacted by pushing down the phone to hit Edouard in the face.
"Who will defend me from going in defence of my teammates?" Neymar wrote in a comment on Bernardo's post.
PSG quickly responded with a statement that said a "friend of a Rennes player had insulted all the players" to "create a buzz" on social media.
Edouard, however, told French sports daily L'Equipe: "I did not insult him.
"I told him that they had been useless. When the players passed, Verratti, Buffon, I mocked them: 'You are worthless. Allez Rennes!'"
Edouard said he had contemplated bringing charges against Neymar who left him with "a cut lip and bloody nose".
The blow continued a bad-tempered end to the evening for PSG. Neymar's strike partner Kylian Mbappe was sent off for stamping on Damien da Silva's knee with two minutes left in extra time.
PSG made the perfect start when Dani Alves' volley from 20 metres put them ahead in the 13th minute and Neymar doubled the lead with a fine lob.
But Rennes, 11th in Ligue 1, pulled one back five minutes before the interval when Presnel Kimpembe deflected Hamari Traore's cross into his own net.
It was the first goal PSG had conceded in the competition this season and they let in another in the 66th minute when Edson Mexer headed home at the near post.
PSG were then reduced to 10 men and their evening was further compounded when substitute Christopher Nkunku missed his spot-kick, handing Rennes their first Cup victory since 1971.
The defeat left PSG with only the Ligue 1 trophy at the end of a season in which they exited the Champions League at the last-16 stage. This was the first time since the 2012/13 season that PSG had failed to win multiple trophies in a season.
Coach Thomas Tuchel struggled to understand the loss, saying: "We showed character, it's a deserved win. I have no explanation.
"It's too soon to assess our season, I need a few days to think about it." - AFP, REUTERS
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