Hosts Brazil continued preparations for the FIFA World Cup with a 5-0 victory over South Africa on Wednesday evening in an international friendly at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
Neymar hit a hat-trick—his second at international level—while Oscar and Fernandinho each scored. The Selecao started the match wearing their iconic yellow shirts before changing into an all-blue strip at half-time.
Neymar's goals were his 28th, 29th and 30th for Brazil in his 47th international appearance. At age 22, he has scored more goals for his country than 31-year-old Kaka.
0-5 FT in JoBurg. Brazil win 7th in a row, establishing longest winning streak during current tenure of Luiz Felipe Scolari as head coach.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) March 5, 2014
0-5 Neymar becomes 12th player to score 30+ for Brazil and picks up second career hat-trick for the Seleçao (10 Sep 2012 v China). #neymar— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) March 5, 2014
Wednesday's friendly was part of Brazil's preparations for the World Cup, which the Selecao will host from June 12 until July 13. Five-time winners of the World Cup, Brazil have not lifted the trophy since 2002.
But with Neymar in the team and in-form, Brazil should rank among the favourites for glory. Last summer Neymar led Brazil to the Confederations Cup title and was named the tournament's best player.
That momentum should make Brazil a dangerous team on home soil. Luiz Felipe Scolari's team will begin their quest for a sixth title in Group A with Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon.
South Africa, who hosted the 2010 World Cup, did not qualify for this year's tournament.
Brazil took the lead in the 10th minute. Hulk picked out Oscar's run into the box with an angled pass from the right. After running on to the ball, Oscar neatly lifted his shot over goalkeeper Ronwen Williams for a 1-0 lead.
South African defender Bongani Khumalo had to leave the match in the 20th minute due to an injury. Siyanda Xulu replaced him.
Marcelo freed Neymar with a pass down the left in the 21st minute. Neymar's first touch took him wide and to the byline, where Williams was able to block the Brazilian's attempted pullback.
Neymar almost made it 2-0 in the 29th minute after an incisive dribble through South Africa's midsection. But with Williams rushing off his line, Neymar attempted a chip that deflected off the goalkeeper and bounced wide.
Brazil worked another chance in the 36th minute, when Hulk picked out Oscar on the right side of the box. Oscar tried to square the ball to Fred in the middle, but the pass rolled just behind the centre-forward.
The second goal finally came four minutes before half-time.
Picking up the ball 40 yards from goal, Neymar created space for himself with a dribble toward the left side of the box before finishing with a low shot between Williams' legs.
Daylon Claasen had South Africa's first real chance in first-half stoppage time, winning possession in midfield and bearing down on goal before shooting wide.
Leading 2-0 at half-time, Brazil emerged from the dressing room for the second half with a new uniform.
But while the new look was unfamiliar, Brazil's quality remained the same. Within seconds of the restart, the Selecao had made it 3-0.
South Africa quickly lost possession from the kick-off, allowing Fred to chip a pass over the top for Neymar. Running free behind South Africa's defence, Neymar chipped the 'keeper with his first touch.
The hosts had their best chance in the 63rd minute, when Ayanda Patosi had a clear sight of goal moments after entering the match as a substitute. But Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar made a fine reaction save to maintain his clean sheet.
At the other end, Neymar glided past a defender and picked out Jo with a cross from the left in the 66th minute. But Jo was unable to find a teammate with his headed back-pass. Neymar then had a chance to complete his hat-trick in the 77th minute, but his header from Dani Alves' chipped pass went wide of the target.
Fernandinho scored Brazil's fourth with a spectacular solo effort from distance in the 79th minute. Picking up a failed clearance outside South Africa's box, the Manchester City man took a pair of touches before stroking a ferocious strike into the top corner to make it 4-0.
Neymar finally finished off his hat-trick in stoppage time. Alves crossed from the right for Jo, who headed the ball back to Neymar. From there, Neymar tapped in to polish off a satisfying night in South Africa.
Brazil's undisputed superstar wore the No. 10 shirt and his performance—while not perfect—showed glimpses of what made him the best player at last summer's Confederations Cup.
The 22-year-old flashed his considerable skills often in the first half, but up until his first goal, it looked like he couldn't come up with the final product.
Then, however, he produced a couple of top-class finishes, plus a late tap-in, to go with his usual arsenal of tricks, pace and silky skills.
A must-watch at this year's World Cup.
For his goal, Oscar produced a composed finish, not to mention an excellent and well-timed run to reach Hulk's pass.
The Chelsea man frequently found space for himself to receive the ball and he nearly always posed a threat with it.
Oscar wasn't quite as tidy late in the first half, but it didn't really matter on this day.
The final scoreline was harsh on South Africa, according to Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
As quoted by FourFourTwo.com, Scolari said:
The score doesn't tell the whole story of the game. South Africa played very well, they moved the ball very well, too. It's a surprise to me that they are not at the World Cup, looking at the way they played. The difference between the two teams was just that we have some very special players.
Normally, any coach would say that every area of the team needs improving, because we always want to improve everywhere. But we were very happy with what we saw. There are only some small things to address now and they will be worked on in training.
I was very happy with what I saw. There were a lot of times when the players were all working for the team, not just for themselves. It is only then that the special players can take advantage as the guys who work hard make spaces for them.
Up next, Brazil will face Panama and Serbia in friendlies before the World Cup.