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Rolling Neymar becomes a World Cup meme

Jul 2, 2018, 1:13 PM | Updated: 3:26 pm

Brazilian soccer Neymar may be one of the world’s biggest soccer stars.

But midway through the round of 16 in the 2018 World Cup, he’d become one of the world’s biggest memes.

Neymar continued his theatrical falling, feigning and wincing during Brazil’s 2-0 win over Mexico on Monday.

Look at the lengthy gallery above, and it’s clear that Mexico’s dissatisfaction with Neymar’s antics on Monday was warranted.

The world’s most expensive player recorded a goal and an assist Monday. He broke through Mexico’s stern resistance by setting up the opener when his back-heel released Willian, then then ran into the penalty area and slid to tap Willian’s cross into the net.

Before setting up the second goal it looked like Neymar’s game — or even his World Cup — could be over with 20 minutes to go. It turned out to be pure histrionics. Writhing in agony after his right ankle was stepped on by Miguel Layun, Neymar managed to get back on his feet. But not before trying to step on Layun.

Both escaped punishment, but the judgment elsewhere was less forgiving, with Neymar asked after the match if he was a diva trying to draw fouls.

“I think it’s more an attempt to undermine me than anything else,” Neymar responded.

Neymar’s dispute with Layun unfolded as the Mexico substitute tried to recover the ball. In a delayed reaction, Neymar made the most of Layun stepping on his ankle, rolling around with his hand covering his eyes.

Mexico’s coach wasn’t pleased.

“We wasted a lot of time because of one single player,” Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio said, without naming Neymar. “I think this is a real shame for football, especially for kids who are watching because this has to be a sport of virility, of determination, a man’s sport, like other games, and not a charade.”

But Twitter users weren’t as bitter.

Lots of fine content came of it, especially thanks to an over-done rolling around on the ground from an earlier World Cup match against Serbia.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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