Neymar breaks Pele’s record as Brazil defeat Bolivia 5-1

Brazil’s forward Neymar celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2026 FIFA World Cup South American qualifiers football match between Brazil and Bolivia at the Jornalista Edgar Proença ‘Mangueirao’ stadium, in Belem, state of Para, Brazil, on September 8, 2023. – Neymar became Brazil’s all-time top scorer on Friday surpassing Pele’s record.

With two goals in the second half of Friday’s 5-1 victory against Bolivia in South America’s 2026 World Cup qualifiers, Neymar eclipsed Pele as Brazil’s all-time leading scorer.

The 31-year-old striker entered the game tied with Pele on 77 goals and was given the chance to break the record when Brazil was given a penalty in the 17th minute.

However, he appeared upset after Guillermo Viscarra of Bolivia easily saved his soft penalty kick to maintain the scoreless draw.

Seven minutes later, Rodrygo quickly reacted to score the opening goal for Brazil after Viscarra parried a shot from Raphinha.

Raphinha cut in from the left immediately after the half, and his low shot took a tiny deflection as it sailed into the bottom corner, giving Brazil a two-goal advantage.

Neymar contributed to Brazil’s third goal with a deft chipped pass that Bruno Guimaraes cleverly flicked on into Rodrygo’s path, who comfortably punched home.

Then, in his 125th game for his nation, Neymar had his chance to make history when he pounced on a loose ball inside the box and tucked away his 78th goal, raising his hands and lifting his head to the sky.

Victor Abrego scored Bolivia’s equaliser after weaving through a disjointed Brazilian defence and beating Ederson with a powerful shot.

However, Neymar still had time to increase his record total. In stoppage time, he connected with a low pass from Raphinha to seal the victory and the forward’s memorable evening.

The former Barcelona striker, now 31 years old, recently switched teams from Paris Saint-Germain to Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal.

Between 1957 and 1971, Pele, who passed away in December at the age of 82, scored 77 goals in 92 games for Brazil.

After the Selecao’s World Cup quarterfinal exit last year, Fernando Diniz replaced his predecessor Tite as coach, and the victory was the ideal way to get things going.

Neymar, whose place in the team has come under investigation, was honoured by Diniz.

“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,” the speaker remarked.

People must acknowledge and accept him because he is a huge idol, he continued.