Neymar did typical Neymar things Monday night, propelling Brazil to a 4-1 victory over Cameroon and a spot atop Group A.
Although the Brazilian defense looked a bit shaky at times in the opening half, Neymar transcended those problems. He netted a brace in the opening 35 minutes, carrying the Selecao to a 2-1 break at intermission.
Here's a look at the first, courtesy of BuzzFeed's Austin Hunt:
Although it appears a simple goal at first glance (letting one of the most dangerous attacking players in the world saunter into the middle of the box unmarked is comically bad), the finish was exquisite. To redirect a ball coming from the left perfectly in the bottom right corner with one touch—and to make it look so easy—takes a ton of skill.
World Soccer Talk put it simply, also praising Luiz Gustavo's cross:
In storybook fashion for the hosts' talismanic star, it marked a landmark goal, as ESPN's Paul Carr noted:
Neymar puts Brazil up 1-0 with the 100th goal of this #WorldCup.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 23, 2014
Cameroon quickly put an end to the celebrations with an equalizer just nine minutes later, and Brazil looked a tad nervous. Neymar once again came to the rescue with a gorgeous bit of individual play.
World Cup 2014 on Twitter provided a look at what proved to be the game-winner:
NEYMAR WITH HIS 2ND GOAL PUTS BRAZIL BACK IN THE LEAD 2-1 CAMEROON! https://t.co/14oTOpuZ5y— Worldcup 2014 (@CopaMundiaI) June 23, 2014
Squawka and Opta Sports offered some historical context behind the goal:
Oh yeah, and he's still just 22 years old. Even former England star Rio Ferdinand couldn't help but be baffled by what the youngster has already accomplished and is currently doing in his debut World Cup:
Neymar: 22yrs old, 53 games, 35 goals, 20 assists....that's illegal!! Dealing with pressure like a boss.— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) June 23, 2014
Luiz Felipe Scolari, via The Mirror's Jack Lang, discussed Neymar's immense, almost get-out-of-jail-free impact after the match:
Scolari asked if #BRA over-dependent on Neymar: "He's always involved. Argentina depend on Messi... some players just make the difference."— Jack Lang (@snap_kaka_pop) June 23, 2014
Unfortunately, it wasn't all nearly as positive for Scolari's squad. In fact, these two Vines, via ESPN's Dermot Corrigan and Grantland's Netw3rk, just about sum up Brazil on the night: Neymar, unbelievably skilled and dangerous with the ball at his feet; Hulk, wasteful:
Hulk returned to the starting XI but lasted just 63 minutes. In addition to blasting that one well over the bar, he ruined a couple of other chances when he was far too slow with the ball at his feet.
ESPN's James Dall put it simply:
When Hulk the footballer gets mad he gets more underwhelming.— James Dall (@JamesDallESPN) June 23, 2014
Finally, David Luiz was somewhere in between. His night started off poorly, as he allowed Joel Matip to get free in the box for Cameroon's goal.
Ferdinand, who knows a thing or two about playing center-back, was back with his analysis of the play:
Cameroon are back in it!Brazils 2 full backs are up there with the best going forward,defending-a myth. Luiz didn't even know he was there🙈— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) June 23, 2014
Luiz recovered, though, and played well for the rest of the game, especially in the second half. According to WhoScored.com, the 27-year-old recorded three interceptions, six clearances and a blocked shot. He also provided a tremendous cross on Fred's goal.
Now, Scolari's squad can look ahead to the round of 16.
That's where Chile await, and Jorge Sampaoli's aggressive, forward-pushing team will be anything but a pushover. However, with Neymar in such splendid form, Brazil have to be feeling confident about their chances of appeasing the home crowd.