Santos players defend Real Madrid target Neymar after red card in Atletico Mineiro defeat

The hotly-chased young Brazil international was dismissed in the 84th minute of the Brasileiro fixture, but, despite apologising, has the support of his club team-mates
Real Madrid target Neymar was sent off in Santos' 2-1 defeat to Atletico Mineiro on Thursday, but has been defended by his club team-mates.

The Brazil international striker received two yellow cards in the loss, the second for mocking the referee after what he felt was a wrong decision.

Despite the Copa Libertadores holders being beaten, the players have rushed to the 19-year-old's defence, pointing to the heavy-handed nature of their opponents.

"We know Neymar's character," defender Edu Dracena told Lancenet.

"We understand that [opponents] try to kill the game [by fouling him] and it is irritating. Losing one's temper is natural. He apologised, but [did] not have to," he stated.

Porto-bound Danilo was equally understanding, but hopes the attacker does not repeat his petulance in the future.

"As much as he is fouled, [he] has an excellent head. He was wrong and that attitude does not reflect Neymar. He is a bright kid and certainly will not do it again," the 20-year-old commented.

The South American forward has long been linked with a move to Europe, with Real Madrid leading a long list of suitors, and Brazil legend Zico believes he would find life easier in La Liga.

"Neymar is beginning to suffer because they foul [him] too much," the Iraq coach said to Globoesporte.

"I saw the game against Costa Rica, I think it is better for him to play outside Brazil. Playing in Spain he would not be [fouled as much]; [Lionel] Messi is not hunted."