Brilliant Neymar delights again in PSG romp

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar celebrates scoring their sixth goal. (Reuters)
Updated 22 August 2017
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Brilliant Neymar delights again in PSG romp

PARIS: Neymar starred from beginning to end on his home debut for Paris Saint-Germain, scoring twice in a 6-2 thumping of Toulouse in Ligue 1 on Sunday.
The Brazilian superstar had a hand in everything else his new side did at the Parc des Princes as they recovered from the shock of falling behind early on to a Max Gradel goal.
Neymar got the equalizer and the €222 million ($261 million) man later completed the rout in stunning style after further goals from Adrien Rabiot, an Edinson Cavani penalty, Javier Pastore and Layvin Kurzawa.
Marco Verratti was sent off for PSG midway through the second half and Toulouse at one point came back to 3-2, but they were ultimately blown away by the world’s most expensive player.
“I feel very happy and relaxed, I feel at home. I am adapting as quickly as possible. I am getting better physically and I can still improve yet,” the 25-year-old said ominously after the game.
It was PSG’s third win in as many league outings this season and they join reigning champions Monaco and Saint-Etienne in having the maximum nine points to their name.
Saint-Etienne visit the French capital next Friday and will be dreading the prospect after this latest exhibition from PSG’s new superstar.
Neymar had a part in all of his side’s goals in last week’s 3-0 win at Guingamp, scoring one in his first game in French football since his stunning world-record transfer, and he was again at the center of everything here.
Gradel, making his first appearance for Toulouse on loan from Bournemouth, volleyed the away side in front in the 18th minute but Neymar had already seen a shot strike the top of the bar before that.
The Brazilian then saw a header tipped onto the post by Alban Lafont before he equalized just after the half-hour, setting up Rabiot for a shot that was pushed out by the away goalkeeper before following in to convert the loose ball.
The same duo combined as PSG went in front, Rabiot playing a one-two with Neymar before beating Lafont with a low strike into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
The second half was quieter before coming to life after Verratti was harshly shown a second yellow for catching Christopher Jullien in the Toulouse area in the 69th minute.
Soon after, the referee gave a harsh decision the other way, awarding a penalty for a foul on Neymar when Toulouse striker Andy Delort appeared to play the ball.
Cavani scored from the spot, the goal his 11th in his last 11 Ligue 1 games, but Toulouse quickly pulled another one back when the giant Jullien headed in from a corner with 12 minutes left to make it 3-2.
Yet there was to be no grandstand finish from the visitors, as instead substitute Pastore — the man who has lost his place to accommodate Neymar — curled in a superb fourth.
Neymar’s corner was headed in by Kurzawa. But Neymar had to have the last word and somehow engineered himself space in the area in stoppage time before finishing to make it 6-2 and bring the Parc des Princes crowd to its feet.
“If I forget the fact I am the Toulouse coach, it is good for football to see that kind of class,” said opposition boss Pascal Dupraz.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Marcelo Bielsa suffered a second straight loss as Lille coach in a disappointing 2-0 home defeat against Caen, while Marseille were frustrated by Angers in a 1-1 draw at the Velodrome.
Radamel Falcao struck his fifth goal in three games on Friday to give Monaco a 1-0 win at Metz, while Saint-Etienne beat newcomers Amiens 3-0 on Saturday.


Benevolence, not bluster: How ‘Brand Salah’ bucks the trend

Updated 22 min 24 sec ago
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Benevolence, not bluster: How ‘Brand Salah’ bucks the trend

  • Mohamed Salah lines up for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday
  • Mohamed Salah has been unveiled as DHL’s new brand ambassador for the MENA region

LONDON: On Saturday Mohamed Salah will line up for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
He will do so not only with the every member of the Red army behind him, but also the entire Arab world.
That is testament to his stratospheric rise — over the past nine months the Egyptian ace has gone from being a very good player, but one deemed as needing to justify his $52 million transfer fee, to a global superstar and cultural phenomenon.
As with any sporting star, with the adulation and attention comes potential pitfalls and, invariably, a new lexicon. So it was not surprising to hear the 25-year-old speak of “his brand” when he was unveiled as DHL’s new brand ambassador for the MENA region on Wednesday. Stars becoming brands is almost cliche now and one that Salah has clearly taken on board — he now has even his own logo.
“We are proud of him. Over the past two years, no has done what he has done. He has proved himself as one of the best and we wanted to deal with no one else, just him,” CEO of DHL in the Middle East and North Africa, Nour Suliman, said. “He is competing on another level and is the star of the Arab world. No one in the Arab world has done what he is doing. We are very proud to have him.”
Those types of corporate events, where a big multinational signs a deal with the latest big, young thing, lend themselves to the odd dollop of hyperbole. But there is little doubting the impact Salah has had on the pitch for Liverpool and Egypt, and off it in becoming a true Arab icon. And his utterance of the word “brand” is where Salah as a walking cliche begins and ends.
Every year in Egypt ahead of Ramadan the best dates are named after the most popular person in the country — the man or woman revered by the nation at that moment. In the past, the staple food of the holy month has tended to be named after political leaders.
This year there was no competition: The most succulent date has been named after Salah. At the DHL press conference he was presented with a packet of dates emblazoned with his face and name.
It said much about the man that he both looked and confessed to being “embarrassed.”
This week the British Museum in London displayed Salah’s green football boots as part of its Modern Egypt exhibition. And in a documentary about the player broadcast in the UK, he was credited with increasing attendances at England’s oldest mosque in Liverpool and improving the image of Islam by Dr. Abdul Hamid, a trustee at the mosque.
So while the signing of big deals hints he is very much the modern-day footballing superstar, everything else off the pitch suggests something else.
Salah is on social media, but does not, like many sports stars, live on it; he knows he is a hero for many, but pays more than mere lip service to his position as a role model; and he embraces attention (of both opposition defenders and fans) rather than seemingly getting annoyed by it if things are not going his way.
“I am not heavy into social media, I am on it and aware of it, but I don’t follow it that closely. It does not influence me,” he said.
“I am aware young people look up to me and I feel great that they do and that I can influence a young footballer to play better or train harder, or do better; that that makes me proud.”
This season Salah has done what few footballers have done before, transcend the game, and he has done so in a way characterized by benevolence rather than bluster.
Against Real Madrid he can again illustrate just what a talent he is — and if he does lead Liverpool to their sixth European Cup triumph, you get the feeling he will not let the adulation go to his head.