Brazil started their 2026 World Cup Qualifiers in stunning fashion as they crushed Bolivia 5-1 on Friday evening. Neymar scored a wonderful brace for the Selecao. In doing so, he surpassed the late Pele to become his country’s all-time leading goal scorer.

In their first game under interim head coach Fernando Diniz, the hosts got off to a perfect start. They won a penalty in the 15th minute.

However, Neymar’s feeble effort was saved by Bolivian goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra as the visitors survived.

Yet, in the 24th minute, Brazil got their opening goal. Real Madrid winger Rodrygo slotted in from close range. After Raphinha’s initial shot was saved by Viscarra, Bolivia failed to clear the ball. Rodrygo was the quickest to react and got his reward.

The Selecao started the second half with two quickfire goals from Raphinha and Rodrygo as they cruised to a 3-0 lead by the 51st minute.

It was always going to take a monumental effort for the visitors against the opposition on the day. Yet, despite a credible first half, the visitors crumbled under pressure after the restart.

Neymar is an icon for Brazil

The home crowd went into elation in the 61st minute when Neymar thumped home a loose ball in the box.

This was the 31-year-old’s 78th goal for his country, as he went past Pele to lead the goalscoring charts for the iconic footballing nation. Bolivia did grab a solitary consolation in the 78th minute through Victor Abrego before Neymar completed the demolition with his second of the night deep into stoppage time.

The result encompassed a historic night for Neymar who later said, “I never imagined reaching this record. I want to say that I am not a better player than Pele. I always wanted to make my own story, write my name in the history of Brazilian football and the national team. And today I did that.”

Brazil take on Peru in their next encounter while Bolivia host reigning World Champions Argentina.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Xinhua