Neymar is yet to start a competitive match for Barcelona – but the Brazilian international already knows the feeling of getting the Catalan outfit out of a tight spot.
The 21-year-old, on the bench for Barça’s 7-0 demolition of Levante in their opening La Liga match of the season, was again a substitute in Wednesday night’s Supercopa de España first leg against Atlético Madrid. Introduced after 59 minutes in place of Pedro, it was his 66th-minute header from Dani Alves’ far-post cross that cancelled out David Villa’s early Atlético opener.
Having been left out of Gerardo Martino’s starting line-up for two consecutive matches, there has been speculation over Neymar’s physical condition, an irregular pre-season and his alleged diagnosis with anaemia (denied by Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari). However, the Barça new boy’s goal at the Vicente Calderón could persuade Martino to place his faith in him as a starter.
Speaking after the Atlético stalemate, Neymar expressed his satisfaction at hitting his first goal for ‘Los Azulgrana’ in an official match: “I’m happy because I came on and was able to help the team in a difficult situation. I'm thrilled to have scored my first goal.” On the 1-1 draw, the forward said: “It’s a good result and now we have to do the job at home. Atlético are a strong side, and they showed that again in this match. The tie is wide open.”