PSG and Brazil star Neymar has become the latest player to defend Antony after the Manchester United player was criticised for showboating against FC Sheriff.
The 22-year-old performed his trademark 360 degree spin move – twice – while the scores were still tied at 0-0, which prompted a backlash from pundits like Scholes and Robbie Savage.
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United needed to win the game to keep their hopes of topping their group – and avoiding a play-off match against a Champions League drop-out – alive, but Antony his trick by over-hitting a pass straight out of play.
‘Well that for me is ridiculous. Because he’s done that and then he puts the ball out of play. Quite embarrassing actually, doing that with nobody near him,’ said Savage during his BT Sport commentary.
‘And then he puts the ball out of play. If I was the manager I would not be happy. And you can hear the crowd. They’re trying to win the game, moving the ball quickly, nobody near him, and he puts the ball out of play. Embarrassing.’
United legend Scholes echoed those sentiments, describing Antony’s showboating as ‘ridiculous’ and even calling him a ‘clown’.
Erik ten Hag refused to condemn Antony – which United won 3-0 – while he dismissed suggestions the winger had been withdrawn at half-time as a result of his unnecessary skill move.
Neymar has now sent his support to Antony after the backlash he has received and encouraged him to keep expressing himself.
Sharing a clip of his compatriot doing his spin move, Neymar tagged Antony on Instagram and wrote: ‘Keep it up, don’t change anything! Go for it boy! Boldness and joy.’
Antony himself posted a message on Instagram earlier in the day, saying: ‘We are known for our art and I will not stop doing what has brought me to where I am!’
United team-mate Fred also defended Antony and blasted Scholes and Savage who criticised his trickery, telling ESPN: ‘It’s very annoying that they want to say that.
‘I think it starts with us being Brazilians. Brazilians have quality in their blood. It’s always been that way since Pele, to have quality, to dribble, to score, to dance, to smile.
‘So I think people have to understand this aspect that we have. So it wasn’t offensive to anyone what he did.
‘Of course, if it’s offensive, we’ll come to him in the dressing room and talk. But it was not offensive to anyone. It’s his game. I think he has to keep doing it.’