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Neymar return better than I imagined – Tite

9:40 AM MYT 07/07/2018
Neymar - Cropped
Despite Brazil's World Cup exit, their head coach praised his star man for his performances

Neymar's return from injury for Brazil was better than expected, coach Tite said after their World Cup elimination.

The Brazil star was unable to stop his team from a quarter-final exit as they suffered a 2-1 loss to Belgium in Kazan on Friday.

Neymar scored two goals and provided an assist in five games, having made his return from a broken foot in early June.

He appeared to be rounding into form in time for the business end of the tournament, having delivered a goal to cap a man of the match performance in Brazil's 2-0 victory over Mexico in the round of 16.

However, he was held off the scoresheet against Belgium, with Renato Augusto providing the only goal on a headed finish off a delivery from Philippe Coutinho. 

Despite Neymar's struggles against Belgium, Tite said the way the 26-year-old, who missed three months due to the injury, returned surprised him.

"Neymar, we've seen there was a clear evolution coming to his top performance," he told a news conference.

"Before the match when he was selected man of the match [against Mexico] we got together and I said, 'Neymar, you are 100 per cent'. Because you can realise when the mind is thinking and the body is responding. The dribbling, the feinting, the speed.

"He came back better than I imagined. Physically he's also very well gifted, he's very fast.

"In terms of high-intensity actions, no-one in the World Cup comes close."

It closes an up and down World Cup for Neymar, who, in addition to his performances in attack, also drew criticism for his theatrics during the tournament