Brazil took another step toward qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a 5-0 win over Bolivia on Thursday.
Neymar was again the star of the day, scoring an early goal while adding two assists, all in the first half.
Mauricio Savarese of the Associated Press noted the 24-year-old star's place in the record book:
Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated broke down the Barcelona man's international success:
Grant Wahl @GrantWahl
Neymar now has 49 international goals, No. 7 of all active men's players. He's just 24 years old.2016-10-7 01:05:00
Meanwhile, Brazil got plenty of help Thursday with additional goals by Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, Filipe Luis and Gabriel Jesus.
In addition to having five different scorers, the home team held possession for 71 percent of the match and took 19 total shots, compared to just three for Bolivia. Somehow, the five-goal win might not have even provided the whole story as to how one-sided the match was from start to finish.
The Selecao didn't have a chance to overtake Uruguay in the CONMEBOL standings, after Edinson Cavani led La Celeste to a 3-0 win over Venezuela earlier in the day. However, Brazil remains in great shape, sitting one point out in second place.
Considering the Brazilians were in the bottom half of the table when Tite took over as their manager in June, fans have to be satisfied with the team's position halfway through qualifying.
Bolivia, which remains near the bottom of the list, has an uphill battle to earn a trip to Russia.
It didn't take long for Brazil to grab control of the match Thursday, scoring just 11 minutes in thanks to an easy finish by Neymar.
Neymar and Jesus ended up with a two-on-one situation and were able to easily pass back and forth to create the best opportunity. Tim Stillman of Sambafoot described the connection between Neymar and his 19-year-old teammate:
Tim Stillman @Stillberto
Great pressing from Neymar, excellent teamwork between Gabriel Jesús and Ney. Their partnership is so promising.2016-10-7 00:57:51
The great passing wasn't limited to the two young stars. Brazil continued to move the ball in the final third to create its second goal in the 26th minute, via beIN Sports USA:
beIN SPORTS USA @beINSPORTSUSA
Some beautiful passing and play lead to this @Phil_Coutinho goal. 2-0 @CBF_Futebol. #Russia2018 https://t.co/BEFlKyOie12016-10-7 01:17:55
Giuliano found Coutinho for the second score as the home team started to pull away.
Neymar continued his domination of the game with two more assists before halftime, including this painful one to Luis, via beIN Sports USA:
beIN SPORTS USA @beINSPORTSUSA
Barça star @neymarjr is leveled but not before he releases @filipeluis with an assist for a goal. 3-0. #Russia2018 https://t.co/YbhmVNIy0j2016-10-7 01:32:29
The young star found Jesus for the fourth score of the game just a few minutes later.
ESPN FC described the one-sided match at intermission:
ESPN FC @ESPNFC
HALF-TIME: It's Brazil 4, Bolivia 0, as Neymar and company are totally outclassing their CONMEBOL opponent on the night. https://t.co/9EbTInKAsq2016-10-7 01:33:51
The second half was quieter, with Brazil doing its best to hold possession. Bolivia struggled to get any chances and rarely got the ball across midfield.
It didn't get any easier for the visitors after Neymar and Jesus came off, as the Selecao showcased their depth on the pitch.
After earning a corner kick, Coutinho drove the ball perfectly into the box, where Firmino was able to head it into the back of the net.
The rest of the night featured conservative play by Brazil and good enough defense to hold on for the easy 5-0 victory.
World Cup qualifying is now halfway done for both teams, which have played nine of the 18 scheduled contests over a two-year period. Brazil is in better shape than it was a few months ago, but a lot can change in the coming months.
Bolivia will return home for Tuesday's match against Ecuador, which is coming off a big 3-0 victory over Chile.
Brazil will go on the road to face Venezuela as it hopes to build on its three-game winning streak during qualifying.
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