Above left, Barcelona’s Neymar celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during Monday’s soccer match against Mexican champ Leon at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain. Above right, teammate Luis Suarez dribbles the ball.
The Associated Press
BARCELONA, Spain — Neymar and Luis Suarez played for the first time since their dramatic World Cup exits, with the Brazilian star scoring twice Monday and showing no signs of his devastating back injury in Barcelona’s 6-0 rout of Mexican champion Leon in a preseason tuneup.
The last time Suarez played he infamously bit an Italian opponent at the World Cup, drawing a four-month ban from competitive matches.
The Uruguayan striker, who has since transferred to Barcelona from Liverpool, was cheered by his new fans at Camp Nou during introductions. He entered as a substitute in the 75th minute to more applause.
Neymar hadn’t played since fracturing a vertebra during the World Cup on July 4, ruling him out of the rest of the tournament. He was deemed fit to play hours before the game against Leon.
Neymar set up Lionel Messi’s third-minute score before adding goals in the 12th and 44th minutes. He was substituted at halftime before Barcelona youth forwards Munir El Haddadi scored in the 54th and the 77th and Sandro Ramirez added another in the 89th.
Suarez and Neymar were greeted warmly when introduced. The Uruguayan even received a smattering of “Suarez! Suarez!” chants from some fans, whose enthusiasm for the new signing was exceeded only by that shown for Messi.
While Neymar shone in his return, Suarez was limited to just a few touches in his 15 minutes. He practiced for the first time with Barcelona on Friday, a day after the Court of Arbitration for Sport softened his ban.
Both of Barcelona high-profile’s forwards figured in two of the most remarkable moments of this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
Neymar was kneed in the back by Colombia defender Juan Camillo Zuniga in a 2-1 quarterfinal win that left him writhing in pain. Suarez sunk his teeth into Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder and later was suspended for the third time in his career for biting an opponent.
On Thursday, the sports court lessened his FIFA-imposed suspension to allow Suarez to practice and play exhibitions for Barcelona following his $130 million move.
Monday’s game likely will be the last Suarez plays before his ban expires Oct. 25. Barcelona opens the Spanish league against Elche on Sunday.MORE IN Sports Wire
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