Neymar scored his record 78th and 79th goals for Brazil in a 5-1 World Cup qualifying win over Bolivia on Friday.
Neymar’s goals in the Amazon city of Belem put him two above the total of three-time World Cup winner Pelé as the Selecao’s top goal scorer.
Brazil fans did not know how the team would react under new coach Fernando Diniz, who is in a caretaker position until the next Copa America, possibly to be replaced by Carlo Ancelotti. Supporters were also wondering how competitive Neymar would be after his transfer out of European soccer and return from injury.
The doubts didn’t last long.
Neymar missed a penalty in the 17th minute, which was saved by goalkeeper Billy Viscarra, but he dribbled through the Bolivian defense during the entire match. He opened space for Raphinha to shoot in the 24th minute. Viscarra saved again, but Rodrygo had the rebound to finish from close range.
Brazil had several other opportunities to double its lead in the first half, but failed. Two minutes after the break the second goal came in a crossed shot by Raphinha, who played because Vinicius Júnior is injured.
In the 53rd minute, Rodrygo scored his second goal after an assist by Bruno Guimarães.
Neymar scored his record-breaking goal in the 61st minute from close range after a low cross that found him near the penalty spot. His second came in added time in similar fashion, also with a low cross from Raphinha that created the clear opportunity for the 31-year-old striker.
Bolivia scored its consolation goal in a counter-attack in the 78th minute with Victor Abrego.
Brazil will play at Peru on Tuesday, the same day Bolivia will host World Cup champion Argentina.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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