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Neymar jeered then scores stunning PSG winner

Sid Lowe explains the significance of Lionel Messi publicly commenting on Barcelona's failed effort to bring back Neymar.
Lionel Messi said he would've "loved to have Neymar back" after Barcelona failed to sign the Brazilian star from Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar suffered a torrent of abuse on his Paris Saint-Germain return against Strasbourg in Ligue 1 on Saturday after his failed move to Barcelona and ended the match scoring the winner in injury time.

The Brazil international started the clash at Parc des Princes and was treated to a rough ride from the French champions' supporters and from the notorious Ultras. PSG struggled throughout the match, and it was left to Neymar to spare their blushes with a stunning overhead winner in the first minute of stoppage time.

Meeting a corner from the left, Neymar adjusted superbly, and his acrobatic effort hit the post on its way in, before he ran off and celebrated wildly with his teammates.

On the reaction he received from the home fans, Neymar said: "I have no message for the supporters. I knew this would probably be tough. If they want to yell at me, they are free to. They should not focus on me, though. The most important thing is the team. From now on, I will be playing every home match as if it is away."

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With Neymar in PSG coach Thomas Tuchel's starting XI, the Ultras were given their chance to let him know their feelings and they did not hold back, living up to their prematch promise to give the €222 million man a hard time.

Neymar was the subject of derogatory and explicit chanting, and at one point the abuse was directed toward his father and agent. However, he said he remains focused on playing and is ready to move on from the summer transfer saga.

"From the moment the transfer window closed, I have been focused on PSG," Neymar said. "I had a lot of serious injuries and I missed out on lots of games. However, whenever I am on the pitch, I have responded."

Neymar suffered a hostile afternoon on his return to action for Paris Saint-Germain.

When asked why he wanted to leave the club, he said: "For personal reasons. It was nothing against PSG. When you do not feel good in a job, you look to change. It was a personal reason, I had my reason, and I wanted to leave. I did my best, but unfortunately they did not. I will not go into details about it. This is the last time I will talk about it.

He then added with a laugh: "They booed me the whole game and then were forced to celebrate my goal."

The PSG Ultras were relentless in their pursuit of their No. 10, booing, jeering and whistling Neymar each time he touched the ball and Tuchel was forced to address the situation after the match as well.

He said: "Honestly, I expected nothing particular, but for me, I do not want to judge if it was too harsh or if it went too far because it is our fans. It was not fair for them during the transfer window either.

"These are things between Neymar and PSG. Our fans love the club, so it was not easy for them -- it was hard. In life, when there is a complicated situation, we must accept that reactions can be like that. It is like that and I am not sure if that is it or if it will continue. We must adapt [to it]."

Neymar told PSG he wanted to leave in the summer, and he was strongly linked with a return to Barcelona, the club he left for Paris in 2017.

Lionel Messi said: "I would have liked for Neymar to have returned. Honestly, I'm not sure if Barca did all they could to sign him, but I know it is difficult to negotiate with PSG.

"I am not disappointed. We have a spectacular squad that can challenge for all, even without Ney."

Neymar's day started by teasing the launch of PSG's third kit via social media before opting to avoid the usual red carpet entry that would have given fans the chance to heckle him.

After that, Neymar was met by a wall of noise when his name was read out during the prematch starting XI announcements.

Ahead of the match, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo had warned Neymar to expect a backlash from PSG fans and urged him to return to his best form and inspire Les Parisiens to Champions League glory.

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