Neymar Jnr on Friday, September 8, 2023 beat Pele to become Brazil’s all-time top scorer with two second-half goals in a 5-1 win over Bolivia in South America’s 2026 World Cup qualifiers.
The Al-Hilal forward went into the game level with Pele on 77 goals and had a golden opportunity to break the record in the 17th minute when Brazil were awarded a penalty.
But he looked distraught after his soft spot-kick was easily saved by Bolivia keeper Guillermo Viscarra to keep the scores goalless.
Seven minutes later, Brazil got in front when Rodrygo reacted quickly to slot home after a shot from Raphinha was parried out by Viscarra.
Brazil doubled their lead just after the break when Raphinha cut in from the left and his low shot took a slight deflection as it flew into the bottom corner.
Neymar had a hand in Brazil’s third, with a clever chipped pass that was flicked on by Bruno Guimaraes into the path of Rodrygo who confidently drilled home.
Then came Neymar’s moment to enter the history books as he pounced on a loose ball inside the box and tucked away his 78th goal in his 125th game for his country – raising his hands and his gaze to the skies.
Victor Abrego pulled a goal back for Bolivia, bustling through a disorganized Brazil backline before blasting an unstoppable shot past Ederson.
But there was still time for Neymar to extend his record tally, connecting with a low ball from Raphinha in stoppage time to complete the victory and a memorable night for the forward.
The 31-year-old former Barcelona striker recently moved from Paris Saint-Germain to Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal.
Pele, who died in December aged 82, scored 77 goals for Brazil in 92 appearances between 1957 and 1971.
Brazil’s new coach Fernando Diniz, who took over last year, paid tribute to Neymar, whose role in the squad has been under scrutiny.
“Many did not know what he would come to do, and he came to do what he did: have fun, score two goals and break the record. He is a very big idol, people must recognize him and accept him,” he added.