SAO PAULO — Neymar, the 31-year-old football sensation, etched his name in history as he surpassed Pelé’s long-standing record to become the top goal scorer for Brazil’s national team. In a remarkable display of skill and determination, Neymar reached a career total of 79 goals during a South American World Cup qualifying match against Bolivia in the Amazon city of Belém.
The record-breaking moment occurred in the 61st minute of the match, as Neymar showcased his scoring prowess with a clinical finish from close range, following a low cross into the penalty box. This historic goal propelled him past Pelé’s previous record, marking his 78th goal for the Brazilian national team. Neymar celebrated this achievement with an emphatic punch in the air, reminiscent of the iconic celebrations of the legendary Pelé.
Brazil’s performance in the match was nothing short of dominant, ending in a resounding 5-1 victory over Bolivia. Neymar played a pivotal role in the win, not only breaking the record but also contributing to the team’s success with a second goal during injury time, bringing his total to 79 goals for Brazil.
Al-Hilal striker did face a moment of frustration earlier in the match when he missed a penalty in the 17th minute, denied by a brilliant save from Bolivia’s goalkeeper, Billy Viscarra. However, Neymar quickly made amends, scoring his second goal of the match in a similar fashion near the final whistle, once again converting a low cross, this time from Raphinha.
It’s worth noting that while Brazil’s soccer confederation recognizes Pelé as its all-time top goal scorer with 95 goals in 114 matches, FIFA does not include goals scored by Pelé in national team friendlies against clubs in its official count.
Despite the statistical debate, Pelé’s Foundation acknowledged Neymar’s remarkable achievement, underlining the significance of the moment. The memory of Pelé, who passed away from cancer on December 29 in São Paulo at the age of 82, continues to loom large in the world of football. — Agencies