Superstar Neymar gave the Brazilian national team a dream start to qualifying for the 2026 World Cup in the USA, Canada and Mexico and was crowned Brazil’s top scorer. The Seleção beat Bolivia 5-1 (1-0) in their first qualifying game in Belém.

Rodrygo scored for the hosts in the 24th minute and 53rd minute, Raphinha in the 47th minute and Neymar in the 61st minute and 90th minute. Víctor Ábrego scored a goal for the visitors from Bolivia in the 78th minute. Five-time world champions Brazil will face the Peru national team in their second qualifying game in Lima next Tuesday.

With his 78th and 79th goals for the Seleção, Neymar overtook Brazilian football legend Pelé as the national team’s top scorer at the Estádio Olímpico do Pará. The 31-year-old celebrated his goals with a jump and a punch in the air, something that Pelé, who died at the end of last year, was also famous for.

Neymar overjoyed

“I’m very happy, I have no words for it,” said Neymar. “I never thought I would achieve this record.” Neymar, who moved from Paris Saint-Germain to Saudi Arabia, failed in the 17th minute with a penalty kick against Bolivia goalkeeper Billy Viscarra. Pelé has scored 95 goals for Brazil, but this also includes goals in friendlies against club teams. The world association FIFA only recognizes Pelé’s goals in games against other national teams.

The South Americans opened the global race for tickets to the next World Cup this week. For the first time in history, 48 nations will take part in the final tournament. The final will take place on July 19, 2026.