Neymar has moved ahead of the legendary Ronaldo Nazario in Brazil’s all-time leading goalscorer after a hat-trick against Peru.
Following up an impressive showing in a 5-0 thrashing of Bolivia, the Paris Saint-Germain star scored two nonchalant penalties that he won himself and bagged in stoppage time as the Selecao ran out 4-2 winners in the World Cup qualifier.
Though not a vintage hat-trick by any means, Neymar is now the second-highest scorer for his country after managing an impressive 64 goals in 103 games since making a scoring debut as an 18-year-old back in 2010.
🥇 @Pele (77)— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) October 14, 2020
🥈 @neymarjr (64)
🥉 @Ronaldo (62)
🇧🇷 Neymar's hat-trick sends him 2nd on Brazil's all-time top scorers. The 28-year-old celebrates by doing a number 9 with his hands & imitating Ronaldo's trademark finger-wagging celebration in a fitting tribute to Fenômeno ™️ pic.twitter.com/D9DDgiTnAB
Peru twice took the lead in Lima but Neymar scored two penalties to take his tally above Ronaldo, with Pele on 77.
Everton’s Richarlison also scored, nudging a header from Liverpool’s Roberto Firminio header over the line.
Neymar, 28, has scored his goals in 104 international appearances, while Pele played 92 times for his country.
Brazil and Argentina lead the group after winning both of their opening matches while Paraguay, who beat Venezuela 1-0 on Tuesday, are third.
The top four from the 10-team group qualify directly for Qatar with the fifth-placed side going into an inter-confederation play-off.
Brazil coach Tite was reluctant to compare his current star with past greats.null
“It’s unfair making comparisons,” he said.
“What I can say is Neymar has this unpredictability. He is the bow and the arrow, he’s a player who both makes and takes chances. And he gets better and better, and more mature.”
The 28-year old celebrated by holding up the No 9 with his hands in what appeared to be a tribute to Ronaldo, the former Barcelona, Real Madrid and Corinthians striker.
Richarlison, meanwhile, thanked the team’s medical staff for getting him fit to play after he scored in the game too.
The Everton forward was carrying an ankle injury when he arrived in Brazil for qualifiers against Peru and Bolivia.
He managed a substitute appearance in Friday’s 5-0 win over Bolivia but was fit enough to start against Peru, scoring once and supporting Neymar throughout.