Neymar laughed off criticisms after he faked out helping an opposing player off the ground in Paris Saint-Germain’s 3-2 Coupe de la Ligue semi-final win over Rennes.
The Brazil star started but was kept off the scoresheet as his side held on for a victory in the face of a late Rennes fightback following Kylian Mbappe’s 63rd minute red card.
Neymar was booked in the contest in stoppage time for booting the ball away after Rennes had cut the scoreline to one, but it was a what happened after that he was forced to answer for following the match.
After committing a foul on Rennes full-back Hamari Traore, kicking the ball away and receiving the yellow card, Neymar walked over to Traore, who was sitting on the turf. Neymar bent down and offered Traore his hand, only for Neymar to pull it back and jog away with a wide smile on his face, leaving Traore where he sat.
Following the PSG win, which sent them to their fifth consecutive Coupe de la Ligue final, Neymar was asked about the incident, a school playground classic, and said he was responding to provocation by opponents in a humorous manner.
"I'm playing football but players provoke me a lot,” Neymar told reporters in the mixed zone. “At the end of the game, I made a joke (he pretended to make a player to stand up and at the end he took his hand off), I know it's going to be controversial.
“I always laugh and make jokes to my friend, why not vs the opponents?"
Neymar also took issue with the refereeing in the contest, specifically with the Mbappe red card. The PSG teenager was originally handed a yellow card for his tackle on Ismaila Sarr that was changed to red by VAR review.
Though Mbappe later conceded the red was deserved, Neymar felt differently.
"The refereeing was complicated tonight, there were some situations where it helped but sometimes no,” he said. “I think that Mbappé didn"t deserve the red card, only a yellow one. But it's too late now."
The grin at the end!— Goal (@goal) January 31, 2018
Neymar with a cheeky fake-out during PSG's victory over Rennes. pic.twitter.com/aod7WzNChB
Neymar also addressed the transfer matter of Brazil team-mate Lucas Moura, who looks set to leave PSG for a £25 million move to Tottenham.
Lucas had been prompted to move after PSG manager Unai Emery told him he was unlikely to see playing time in the French capital.
Neymar admitted he was disappointed to see Lucas go, and stated he did not believe the playmaker should depart.
"When I talk about Lucas I'm sad,” Neymar added. “He was not used often. It's my brother in football and I wish him luck and success, and to come in National Team. To me, he shouldn't leave PSG".