Neymar returned from injury and converted a first-half penalty in Brazil’s 4-1 win over South Korea in the round of 16 on Monday. He reached 76 goals with the national team, one shy of the mark set by Pele, who said he would watch the match from his hospital bed in Sao Paulo.
The five-time world champions blitzed their opponents with a bewitching first-half display where they scored four times in 36 minutes.
Vinicius Junior steered home a lovely opener before Neymar moved to within one of Pele’s all-time record goal-haul for his country with a confident penalty on 13 minutes.
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Richarlison then scored one of the goals of the tournament when he juggled the ball with his head before surging on to a sensational return pass from Thiago Silva to slot home.
South Korea simply had no answer as they were continually exposed trying to deploy a positive game-plan and it was no surprise when Lucas Paqueta volleyed in the fourth.
Brazil took their foot off the gas in the second period but still went close through Raphinha before substitute Paik Seung-Ho struck a sensational consolation for the Koreans 13 minutes from time.
“I was very scared,” Neymar said. “It was very difficult after getting injured like I did. I was crying the entire night. My family knows what I had to go through. But in the end it all worked out. It was worth the effort to keep undergoing physiotherapy.”