Watch: Neymar hat trick runs star’s international goal total to 30 in Brazil’s 5-0 rout of South Africa
Neymar just turned 22 in February, but thanks to the extra time he spent in Brazil, the Barcelona star has already accumulated 47 international caps. That availability for the extra South America-based friendlies that Brazil and Argentina schedule also allowed him to run his international goal total to 27 ahead of today’s friendly in South Africa, where Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Seleçao faced the 2010 World Cup hosts in Johannesburg.
As expected when a Confederations Cup champion faces a team that didn’t come close to qualifying for this summer’s World Cup, the match was a rout. Brazil scored twice before halftime, changed from their yellow to blue kits at intermission (seriously), and posted three more goals before the final whistle. Though the Bafana Bafana offered little opposition, Brazil’s 5-0 win left little doubt the Seleçao will be one of the favorites this summer.
The bigger story was Neymar’s, though. Four minutes before half time, a low drive from the left of the box gave the former Santos star his 28th career international goal, sending his team into intermission up two. One minute after halftime, Neymar added his second, with a third goal in stoppage time giving him an even 30 for this international career.
Four years after his debut, Neymar has already become the 12th Brazilian in history to reach the 30-goal mark, passing the likes of Ricardo Kaká in the process. Though he’s still well short of Pelé's record of 77 goals (in 92 appearances), his quick start brings those kind of records in perspective. Whereas Pelé was 31 when he left the Seleçao, Neymar still has two, perhaps three World Cup cycles to cement his place in Brazil’s record books.