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RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Brazil forward Neymar was sent off after clashing with an opponent, the fifth red card of the 21-year-old's career, as Santos lost 3-1 to Ponte Preta in the Paulista soccer championship.
Regarded as the best player of his generation, Neymar became involved in a row with Ponte Preta defender Arthur just before halftime in Sunday's match.
Both players argued with the referee and were sent off.
"I don't know what happened. We were challenging for the ball, I got kicked and was sent off," Neymar told reporters.
"Neither of us should have been sent off. Football is getting really boring, for the players, supporters and television viewers."
Santos coach Muricy Ramalho said that the forward had to get used to being provoked.
"He needs to keep out of trouble," said Ramalho. "Without Neymar, we lose his speed, which is our main attacking weapon. We really suffer when he gets sent off." (Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Clare Fallon)