Neymar rounded on his critics and defended his emotional reaction to scoring in Brazil's 2-0 World Cup win over Costa Rica after he broke down in tears at the final whistle.

A largely frustrating afternoon for the five-time world champions — during which Neymar was heavily criticised for his on-field theatrics — was forgotten thanks to two goals in stoppage time.

Philippe Coutinho broke the deadlock before Neymar tapped home with virtually the last kick of the game.

"Not everyone knows what I went through to get here," he posted on Twitter and Instagram.

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"Even parrots can talk, but walking the walk … not everyone does it. I cried out of happiness, overcoming, grit and desire to win.

"Things were never easy in my life, so why would they be now? The dream — no, the OBJECTIVE — is still alive. Congratulations for the performance, guys."

The world's most expensive player was making just his fourth appearance after breaking a bone in his foot in February and was the centre of attention for much of the match.

Late in the second half the referee awarded Brazil a penalty when he ruled Neymar had been brought down by a Costa Rican defender. But the VAR came into play and after viewing replays, the decision was overturned and the spot kick taken away, with Neymar deemed to have over-exaggerated the contact on him.

BBC pundit Chris Sutton was critical of Neymar, saying something needed to be done to end the culture of diving in football.

Brazil's Neymar celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the group E match between Brazil and Costa Rica at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg. Photo / AP
Brazil's Neymar celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the group E match between Brazil and Costa Rica at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg. Photo / AP

"These players are trying to cheat and they are trying to gain an advantage for that, so why should they be allowed to play in the following game because other teams are obviously disadvantaged?" he said.

Social media wasn't kind as plenty — including former England star Gary Lineker — slammed the 26-year-old for his Oscar-worthy dive.

Neymar had a running battle with the referee for most of the match. The player constantly pleaded for sympathy while the official routinely told the PSG star to get on with it.

According to reports, Neymar told the whistleblower: "Don't touch me" several times and also swore at him.

Teammate Marcelo had to drag him away after he confronted the referee in the tunnel at halftime.

Brazil's Neymar reacts after falling in the penalty area during the group E match between Brazil and Costa Rica at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium. Photo / AP
Brazil's Neymar reacts after falling in the penalty area during the group E match between Brazil and Costa Rica at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium. Photo / AP

Neymar's emotions at the end — breaking down in tears — highlighted Brazil's relief at getting its first win of the tournament after being held 1-1 by Switzerland in their opening match.

Coach Tite fell to the floor as he sped onto the pitch following Coutinho's strike. However, there is some concern in Brazil that Neymar's tears are a sign he may struggle to handle the pressure against tougher opposition as the tournament progresses.

"It's not normal to cry in the second game of a World Cup," Brazil's biggest newspaper, O Globo, said.

"A team needs to demonstrate mental strength, not fragility. Genuine or not, Neymar's crying is worrying."