With less than 100 days remaining until Brazil kicks off this summer's World Cup in Sao Paulo, the Selecao breezed to a 5-0 rout over South Africa behind a hat trick from Neymar on Wednesday. The tune-up marked Brazil's final friendly before manager Luiz Felipe Scolari must select the host nation's squad for the tournament on May 7.
Neymar's dazzling display reaffirmed why the host country's hero is expected to be the face of football this summer.
Playing Brazil's famed No. 10 role, Neymar's first goal came from a powerful left-footed finish that went through the opposing goalkeeper's legs minutes before halftime.
Then, following an intermission that saw Brazil switch to their blue jerseys, the striker needed just 20 seconds to double his tally. This time, Neymar sped by a high defensive line to lob a shot over South Africa's charging goalkeeper from outside of the penalty area.
To complete the treble, Neymar tapped in a headed pass from close range, putting an exclamation point on Brazil's victory during stoppage time.
At just 22 years old, Neymar has already scored 30 times in 47 appearances for his country. Four of those came in the Confederations Cup last summer, when he led Brazil over defending World Cup champions Spain in the competition's final. By doing so, Neymar earned the Golden Ball award for the best player of the tournament.
Now plying his trade at the club level for FC Barcelona, Neymar has registered 10 goals and 11 assists in 26 outings across both Spanish League and Champions League play this season.
So as Brazil prepares to finally host this summer's World Cup, Neymar's latest hat trick should have the Selecao liking their chances of claiming a record sixth title.
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