Neymar Incredible as Brazil Routs El Salvador in Friendly

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2018

Brazil forward Neymar, right, dribbles the ball around El Salvador midfielder Gilberto Baires in the first half of a soccer match, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Brazil is a soccer powerhouse, and El Salvador is not.

That was crystal clear Tuesday during their international friendly at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, as Neymar and Co. cruised to a straightforward 5-0 victory. Brazil was coming off a 2-0 win over the United States in Friday's friendly and took another step toward putting its loss to Belgium in the World Cup quarterfinals in the rearview mirror.

The Selecao received two goals from Richarlison, as well as tallies from Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Marquinhos in the win.

          

Neymar's Brilliance Further Cements His Status Among Brazilian Legends

The goals and assists count the same against high-caliber opponents and overmatched ones, and Neymar took full advantage of his opportunity Tuesday.

After scoring his 58th career international goal with a penalty against the Americans, he picked up where he left off and converted another penalty to start the scoring against El Salvador. His 59th goal was part of an overwhelmingly dominant display from the superstar in the first half, as he set up Richarlison for the second goal and Coutinho for the third with perfectly placed passes.

He also added his third assist off a corner on Marquinhos' second-half goal for good measure and was in full control throughout the contest, playing as a de facto point guard as he weaved through defenders and then dished it off at just the right moment when the opposition collapsed. It was a performance to be expected from Neymar considering Brazil is third in the FIFA world rankings, while El Salvador is 72nd.

Neymar is already one of the greatest Brazilian players in the country's history, and he is only 26 years old. He was a step above the competition Tuesday, and his numbers are starting to join rarefied air:

Ronaldo is next on the list, but all-time great Pele is well within reach. Pele finished his career with a Brazilian-record 77 international goals, and the brilliance on display Tuesday suggests Neymar is capable of reaching the storied mark.

         

Neto Hasn't Proved Anything in Net Against Soft Opposition

While Neymar's offense took center stage, another primary storyline entering play was Brazilian goalkeeper Neto.

Raisa Simplicio of Goal.com noted the 29-year-old made Brazil's team for 24 previous matches spread out across eight years but had never seen the field for an international contest. That changed Tuesday when he made his first career start for the Selecao.

"When I told him, a huge smile came across Neto's face," coach Tite said, per Simplicio. "He said thank you very much, but he didn't have to thank me for anything."

Neto has played well in La Liga, with Simplicio calling him one of the league's "leading goalkeepers." Tuesday represented a chance for him to further prove his form in international play and perhaps make his case for inclusion on the roster for the Copa America 2019.

While El Salvador beat Montserrat Saturday in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying, it wasn't the type of opponent to challenge Neto. The result was an uneventful contest that saw zero shots on goal from the losing side.

He at least made a direct impact with a quick pass that got his side into transition and the ball on Neymar's foot to help set up the third goal.

It was the type of play that figures to endear Neto to the coaching staff when it is deciding his status on the roster for future contests, but he didn't prove anything in one direction or another against an overmatched foe Tuesday.

Perhaps he will have another chance against Saudi Arabia.

          

What's Next?

Brazil will play another international friendly on Oct. 12 against Saudi Arabia, while El Salvador will face Barbados in an international friendly on Oct. 13.

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