Brazilian superstar Neymar was nothing short of sensational in Wednesday's 5-0 rout of South Africa in Johannesburg, recording a hat-trick en route to powering the Selecao to their first win of 2014 and seventh consecutive international friendly triumph.
NEYMAR! Is there anything he can't do?! Hat-trick. 5-0 Brazil.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 5, 2014
The 22-year-old forward scored his first two goals within a five-minute span on the game clock after the South Americans took a 1-0 lead on a 10th-minute strike from Oscar. Neymar put Brazil ahead 2-0 just moments before halftime and opened the second stanza with a bang, scoring just 22 seconds in to make it 3-0 in favor of the visitors.
Here's a look at the splendid chip shot via @champ_ian on Vine:
After Fernandinho made it 4-0 in the 79th minute, Neymar put the finishing touches on the dominant performance with a goal in injury time.
The hat-trick means that Neymar has now scored 30 goals in just 47 career appearances with Brazil's senior squad.
ESPN senior researcher Paul Carr points out that Wednesday's performance marked Neymar's second hat-track on the international stage:
Neymar gets his 2nd international hat trick. Pretty sure it's his 1st in two different-colored jerseys.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) March 5, 2014
Neymar's productive outing was no doubt worthy of Man of the Match honors. And at the moment, you'd be hard-pressed to find a player who's making more of an impact on the international stage than Neymar.
Became big admirer of Neymar at Confed Cup last year. Now 21 goals in his last 26 international games— Guy Mowbray (@Guymowbray) March 5, 2014
Despite his struggles in his first season at Barcelona, Neymar has done an excellent job of transitioning from the club and international level, bringing his A-game each and every time he suits up for Brazil it seems.
Neymar is phenomenal and loves the spotlight. He'll be the difference for Brazil— Rocky Balboa (@ghalibgee) March 5, 2014
Neymar's incredible run of form has even made a believer out of Brazilian legend Ronaldo, per ESPN FC's Ian Holyman:
He's already shown his qualities in Brazil. Now, at Barcelona, he's a little like the deputy of Messi, but I think he has great worth and is our big hope. The Brazilian team is good, and Neymar is a key player. If Brazil go through to the final with Neymar, he can be the star of the World Cup.
The former Santos star won the golden ball at last summer's 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, awarded to the tournament's best player, and has given Brazil fans tremendous hope ahead of June's 2014 World Cup. With Neymar leading the way and wearing the iconic No. 10, the host nation will be the favorite to lift the sport's most coveted trophy for the sixth time in history.
Brazil have two more pre-World Cup friendlies scheduled for June against Panama and Serbia.
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