Neymar hat-trick helps Brazil to 5-0 winNeymar celebrates the first of his three goals against South Africa
The Barcelona man was once again star of the show on Wednesday when his three goals helped the Seleção to an emphatic victory over South Africa at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg.
Oscar opened the scoring for the away side after just nine minutes. The Chelsea midfielder latched on to a sumptuous through ball from Hulk before clipping the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper, debutant Ronwen Williams, and into the back of the net.
South Africa enjoyed substantial possession in the first-half but were dealt a deadly blow on 40 minutes when Paulinho’s midfield interception fell kindly for Neymar who drilled the ball through Williams' legs.
Brazil made three changes at half-time with Willian, Ramires and Luiz Gustavo coming on for Paulinho, Oscar and Hulk.
The Seleção continued where they had left off and extended their lead further on 46 minutes. Fred flicked the ball through to Neymar who had all the time in the world to lob the ball over the sorry Williams' head.
Further changes saw Marcelo replaced by Daniel Alves and Fred replaced by Jô.
It was Manchester City's Fernandinho, however, who was next to make a statement. Despite a quiet game, his rasping 30-yard right-footed drive to put Brazil 4-0 up was arguably the goal of the game.
As the game drew to a close, two of Brazil’s substitutes combined well to set up Neymar’s third and Brazil’s fifth goal. Daniel Alves was filling in at left-back and his deep in-swinging cross was nodded into Neymar’s path by the lively Jô. The 22-year-old made no mistake from six-yards out to complete the rout.
The game has undoubtedly given manager Luiz Felipe Scolari plenty to think about before naming his final squad for this year’s World Cup in May.
Fred looked tired, perhaps as a result of the several months recently spent on the sidelines, whilst Fernandinho was quiet but will undoubtedly steal headlines with his terrific goal.
Rafinha was solid and Júlio Cesar, despite not having a lot to do, made one particularly impressive one-handed save to remind Felipão just what he is capable of.
Questions, therefore, are likely to remain over Brazil's central midfield pairing and central striker as the World Cup looms a little over three months away.