'I felt like hurting Neymar' says Dimitri Lienard as Strasbourg defeat PSG
Strasbourg midfielder Dimitri Lienard has admitted he felt like “hurting” Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar during Saturday’s shock 2-1 win over the Ligue 1 leaders.
The 29-year-old, who has fought his way up from the third tier of French football with Strasbourg, teed up Nuno Da Costa’s opener and said that Neymar’s behaviour angered him when the pair clashed.
“He [Neymar] was a bit annoyed — he knew very well that it was a foul,” Lienard told RMC Sport.
“He told me ‘you dived, you dived.’ I wanted to tell him ‘my dear, of course you are a star and of course you can do to us what you like but when you are dancing in front of me, my only desire is to hurt you.’
“However, it is also the same when you do it and get touched a little, you also expect it. It is part of the game — it is football. There was nothing nasty. There was a good mentality on the pitch.”
Lienard was ecstatic to have come out on top against the likes of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe.
“The emotion is huge,” he told Goal. “To come from where I have come from to play against Neymar or against all of these stars, such as Cavani and Mbappe — it has all happened so fast.
“It is really fabulous to have been able to beat them. They are going to go to the World Cup and maybe even become European champions. The emotions are tremendous.
“There is magic in football and that is that simply putting names on a piece of paper does not win a match. I am delighted and pleased to have beaten PSG.”
Lienard did his best to play up the significance of the surprise result, insisting that Strasbourg never expected to take all three points.
“Of course it is an achievement.” Lienard told Le Equipe. “They are unbeaten since when? This is a big moment, right?
“It is a feat and it is wonderful for us players to have beaten PSG but mainly to pick up three more points in Ligue 1.
“We never expected to take all three points against PSG but we have our feet on the ground and never play games to lose. However, when you are up against PSG, it is another galaxy.
“I do not know if I have come back down to earth yet but we are going to enjoy this. I have stars in my eyes this evening. I am like a kid.”
Strasbourg coach Thierry Laurey was pleased with the result and acknowledged that his players got lucky at times.
“We played well,” Laurey said. “We had a bit of luck, we have to acknowledge that. It was a close-run thing. To beat such a team, all the stars have to align and you have to surpass your limits.
“We were clinical, even if on two or three counter-attacks, we could have done better. We dug in and we made sure that we didn’t do any old thing with or without the ball.
“The boys played great. They battled like lions, I’m very proud to be the coach of that team. If we don’t get carried away, we can think about staying up. Not because we have beaten Paris, but because we’re improving.”
PSG will have the chance to exact some revenge on Strasbourg next week when they return to Stade de la Meinau in the Coupe de la Ligue.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.