Neymar furiously squares up to referee as Brazil seal World Cup qualification

Neymar avoided any further punishment despite confronting the referee in the opening minutes of Brazil’s 1-0 win over Paraguay which booked their place in Qatar

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Neymar was lucky to escape punishment as he went chest-to-chest with the referee during Brazil’s 1-0 win over Colombia in Sao Paulo.

The victory confirms the Selecao’s place in next winter’s World Cup, with Tite’s side navigating the notoriously tricky CONMEBOL qualifying without tasting defeat so far.

Lucas Paqueta’s late strike was enough to earn Brazil a victory which moved them a staggering 18 points clear of fifth placed Colombia, who have just five games left to play.

But the Paris Saint-Germain star was lucky to be on the pitch for the majority of the game after avoiding a card following a furious clash with referee Roberto Tobar.

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Neymar confronted referee Tobar, but avoided a red card

Just eight minutes into the game, Neymar confronted the official, shouting directly into his face before making contact with his chest.

However, Tobar opted to not even give the 29-year-old a card, allowing Brazil to keep their full complement and in turn, become the first South American side to book their place in Qatar.

Neymar appeared to take offence at Colombia’s rough and ready approach with several of his team-mates floored by challenges in the opening exchanges.

He was eventually booked for dissent, but the fact he remained on the field will have surely left his opponents furious, considering the conclusion of the game.

As has happened so often in his international career, it was the former Barcelona forward that played a key role in their victory, eventually laying on the winner for Paqueta with 17 minutes to go.

The striker was recently forced to clarify comments he made about potentially retiring after next winter’s showpiece.

He had hinted that the tournament could be his last, claiming he didn’t feel strong enough mentally to keep performing in future years.

It was all smiles at full time however, with Brazil’s place in Qatar secured

But Neymar has since walked back that assessment, explaining: “I said something, but people understood a different thing.

“I said that, yes, this would be my last World Cup and that I would face it in the best way possible.

“I will give my best to be there at 100% because it’s as if I had a game the next day, it’s how I go about it. If there’s a game tomorrow, that game to me, it’s as if it was the last one in my life.

“So, for that World Cup that’s coming up, I’m thinking about it as if it was the last one for me because I don’t know how tomorrow will be and what can happen.

“When I said that, it was a bit controversial, with people saying I wanted to stop playing football and that I would leave the national team.

“People understood a completely different thing. I wanted to say that I’m seeing it as if it was the last one. Why? Because we don’t know how tomorrow will be and what can happen.”

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