With two goals in the World Cup qualifying match between Brazil and Bolivia (5-1), Neymar surpassed the legend Pele on Thursday evening. With 79 goals, he is now the all-time top scorer for the Brazilian national team.
Brazil enjoyed an easy evening at the Manjirão stadium in Belém, in the northern Amazon state of Pará, which was packed with about 50,000 enthusiastic fans. In the first match of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in the United States, Mexico and Canada, Bolivia was easy prey.
It was a matter of time before Neymar surpassed the legend Pele, who passed away at the beginning of this year, on the list of top scorers for the national team. Just over fifteen minutes into his 125th cap, he had an excellent chance from the penalty spot. The Paris Saint-Germain striker hit the ball weakly, and Bolivian goalkeeper Viscara managed to stop the shot easily.
Fifteen minutes into the first half, when Brazil easily took a 3-0 lead thanks to two goals from Rodrigo and one from Ravenna, Neymar finally wrote the history he had been waiting for for so long. Ravenna crossed from the back line, and Rodrigo was unable to control the ball, after which Neymar dribbled and scored his 78th international goal. This surpassed Pele, who scored 77 goals in 91 international matches for Brazil.
In honor of his great predecessor, Neymar cheered like Pele did: jumping high and raising his fist in the air. In the final stage, Neymar scored his second goal of the evening, shortly after Bolivia scored via substitute Abrego, making the final score 5-1.
In the South American World Cup qualifiers, Uruguay beat Chile 3-1 earlier on Thursday. Luis Suarez and Edson Cavani were absent from the Uruguay national team, and they were not called up by new national coach Marcelo Bielsa. World champions Argentina beat Ecuador 1-0 yesterday thanks to Lionel Messi’s free kick. The match between Paraguay and Peru ended 0-0, and Colombia beat its guest, Venezuela, 1-0.
The qualifying series in South America does not promise to be very exciting this time. And due to the increase in the number of countries participating in the 2026 finals in the United States, Mexico and Canada, the continent can send more representatives. Of the ten countries that play a full competition against each other, the top six advance to the final round. Number Seven gets another chance at an intercontinental playoff.
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