(Reuters) - A little under two weeks ago Neymar netted the goal that wrapped up Barcelona’s Champions League triumph against Juventus but his needless sending off at the Copa America on Wednesday means the Brazil forward may have played his last game at the tournament.
Neymar was shown a red card at the end of their 1-0 Group C defeat to Colombia after he became involved in scuffles between the South American rivals and will miss Sunday’s match against Venezuela and probably at least one more game.
The 23-year-old had earlier been booked for a handball and he complained afterwards that he was being victimized by match officials and criticized Chilean referee Enrique Osses, who also dismissed Colombia forward Carlos Bacca after the melee.
“They have to use the rules against me,” Neymar told reporters. “The ball hit me on the hand unintentionally and I got a yellow.
“This is what happens when you put in a weak referee. There was a misunderstanding but there was no need to send everyone off. I didn’t even see that he had expelled me.”
The defeat was Brazil’s first in 12 matches and the first game coach Dunga had failed to win since taking over following the 2014 World Cup finals.
It left Colombia and Brazil tied at the top of Group C on three points along with Venezuela, who have played one game fewer and meet Peru later on Thursday.
Neymar admitted he had a poor game against Colombia but said he was confident his team mates would get the result they needed against Venezuela and seal a place in the last eight.
“I admit we were not good and that I did not play well,” he said. “I take full responsibility.”
Neymar had a superb second season at Barca, helping the Catalan giants win a treble of Champions League, La Liga and King’s Cup titles.
Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Sudipto Ganguly