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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Neymar demands protection

Santos striker Neymar has complained of a lack of protection from referees, after finding himself on the receiving end of some rough treatment during Thursday's Copa Libertadores encounter with Juan Aurich.

Santos emerged 2-0 victors against the 2011 Peruvian Champions, with Neymar getting himself on the scoresheet in the second-half, but the 20-year-old forward was not happy with his opponents' tactics.

''They fouled me hard the entire match,'' Neymar told reporters after the game. ''If I didn't jump out of some ball disputes, I wouldn't be talking to you right now, I would be in a hospital.''

''It looked more like a UFC fight than a football match,'' he added, before expressing his annoyance at being penalised for a dive in the second-half.

''The referees need to understand that I'm not jumping to try to get a foul, it's just to protect myself. A lot of times I have to jump because otherwise I'll get seriously hurt.''

Santos' experienced manager Muricy Ramalho also lept to the defense of his young star post-match.

''They would have broken his leg if he didn't jump,'' Santos coach Muricy Ramalho said. ''The opponents exaggerate, but Neymar is starting to learn how to avoid this.''


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