Neymar wants to take time to “mourn” Brazil’s World Cup exit as he hailed the team’s youngsters for stepping up in the Selecao’s penalty shoot-out loss to Croatia.
Brazil, the pre-tournament favourites, are heading out after going down 4-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw with the 2018 runners-up at Education City Stadium.
Neymar opened the scoring with a wonderful goal midway through extra time on Friday, a strike that took him level with the great Pele on 77 goals for Brazil.
Yet Bruno Petkovic scored with four minutes remaining, with Rodrygo and Marquinhos failing to convert their penalties as Brazil’s wait for a sixth world title rolled on.
Neymar did not take a spot-kick, though perhaps would have been in line to take Brazil’s fifth had it gone that far.
He had nothing but praise for the team-mates that stepped up, as the 30-year-old conceded he was unsure what is next for Brazil, who will have a new coach after Tite confirmed his time in charge had come to an end.
“The feeling is really bad. It’s worse today than what happened in the past,” Neymar said.
“Unfortunately, it’s hard to find words to describe this moment. We tried, we fought, and I’m proud of all my team-mates.
“I’m proud of their personality, of taking the penalty, of their character, because it’s not easy to assume that responsibility.
4 – Dominik Livakovic has saved four penalties during World Cup penalty shoot-outs, the joint-most of any goalkeeper in the tournament’s history. Prescience.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe)
“Rodrygo is a very young boy and every time they came in and played, I always told them: ‘This responsibility is mine, I’m the oldest, you have to play football.’
“But he’s so out of the curve, he’s an ace, and he wanted to take responsibility for the penalty. You can only miss if you hit. Unfortunately, the ball did not go in.
“Not only him, but we will all learn from this. I don’t know what will happen from now on in the Brazilian team, but now it’s time to mourn.”
Neymar had been in tears at full-time, and had to be consoled by team-mates on the field.
Richarlison, meanwhile, was crying as he spoke to reporters well over an hour after the final whistle.
“I think we did almost everything right,” Richarlison said. “Unfortunately, we will not crown the excellent work we built. Now it’s time to suffer a little.
“I have to apologise to our family members and our fans who believed in us until the end. Now it’s time to go to the bedroom and cry because we are human beings, we are flesh and blood. We suffered a very painful defeat.”