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Neymar defends dance celebration

Barcelona attacker Neymar has defended himself from allegations of humiliating beaten opponents with a dancing goal celebration during Saturday’s 6-0 La Liga win over Rayo Vallecano at the Camp Nou.

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Returning as a substitute after almost a month on the sidelines with an ankle injury, Neymar hammered home Barca’s sixth goal from 30 yards late on, immediately running to the sideline and launching into a complex dance routine with his fellow countryman Daniel Alves.

Some pundits thought the act showed a lack of respect for already beaten opponents and both ABC and Marca ran online polls asking if the 22 year old had gone too far with the celebration.

Neymar himself went on Instagram on Sunday to explain that he and Alves had not meant to offend anyone.

“We were enjoying ourselves,” he said. “Whether it is playing, living or doing whatever. We are like that, just happy to be living such unforgettable moments. Our motto is audacity and happiness.”

Neymar’s month on the sidelines was more than eventful, with a Madrid court opening an official investigation into his arrival at Barcelona last summer, Blaugrana president Sandro Rosell stepping down from the post, and the club publishing details of both his salary and the money received by his father during the transfer.

Barca coach Gerardo Martino defended his player after the game, asking any critics to remember the tough times that the youngster had been through recently.

“With the celebration of the goal we should not forget the context,” Martino said. “And all the player has suffered -- with his injury and other matters which are not strictly to do with football. He was not disrespecting the opponent, it was more a relief after all the difficult situations he has been through recently.”

The incident recalled a dance by Alves and Thiago Alcantara while celebrating a goal during a 5-0 win at Rayo’s Estadio Vallecas in April 2012, after which both club captain Carles Puyol and then coach Pep Guardiola reprimanded the players involved.

“That is not the correct behaviour for a Barca player,” Guardiola said after that game.

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