RIO DE JANEIRO. — Neymar moved clear of Ronaldo, for the second most goals for Brazil, with a hat-trick in their 4-2 win over Peru on Tuesday.
The Paris Saint-Germain star put away a penalty either half of their World Cup football qualifier in Lima before tapping home from close range in injury-time.
Neymar (28) moved onto 64 goals, in 103 games for Brazil, pulling past the great Ronaldo in second place, on the nation’s all-time goalscoring list.
Ronaldo scored 62 goals in 98 games for Brazil in a 17-year career for his nation that included winning two World Cups, two Copa Americas and a Confederations Cup.
Only Pele, who netted 77 times, has scored more goals for Brazil than Neymar.
Legendary Brazilian goalkeeper Taffarel believes Neymar is a ‘superstar, who could lead the nation back to the promised land of winning their sixth World Cup title.
And the 54-year-old feels Neymar would have won FIFA’s The Best award if PSG saluted in the recent Champions League final against Bayern.
“(Neymar is) a great player,” Taffarel told the official FIFA website. “He plays the game in a beautiful way. He’s an incredible dribbler, sets up goals, scores fantastic goals.
“He’s very important for us. We really hope he can be at his best and help Brazil win another World Cup. He’s a superstar.
“I cheered a lot for Paris (in the Champions League final) because of the Brazilians who play there. I really wanted Neymar to win this Champions League and, consequently, The Best FIFA (Men’s Player) award.
“But it’s just one day. I really hope in the future he can win this award and be considered the best player in the world.”
Neymar has had an action-packed start to this current season, which was initially interrupted with a coronavirus diagnosis in the lead-up.
Once he recovered from Covid-19, the PSG star was shown a straight red card in the defeat to Marseille, in which he accused opponent Alvaro Gonzalez of racial abuse.
Following a two-match ban, Neymar returned to play 90 minutes in the 2-0 victory against Reims, before scoring twice in the Parisian’s most recent game — a 6-1 belting of Angers at the start of the month.
Lionel Messi helped Argentina to an impressive 2-1 win away to Bolivia.
The trip to Estadio Hernando Siles is notorious for being one of the toughest in world football due to its location in the highest capital city on the planet, La Paz, with an altitude exceeding 3,000 metres.
As a result, Argentina entered their second game of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup without having won away to Bolivia in 15 years, which is remarkable considering Messi debuted that year.
That’s not to mention the fact Argentina infamously lost 6-1 during Diego Maradona’s reign in 2009 despite Messi, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano and Javier Zanetti all playing.
However, the history books were rewritten as Argentina joined Brazil as the only South American nation to begin the CONMEBOL qualifying process with two victories from as many games.
That’s not to say the three points came easily, though, because Bolivia actually raced into an early lead with Marcelo Martins Moreno heading home a first-half opener on the counterattack.
But, Argentina did enough to ensure the scores were level going into the break, something that can never be underrated in football, with Lautaro Martinez moving to double figures for his country.
The Inter Milan forward looked on course for a fantastic individual goal, only to lose possession, but was rewarded for trying to regain the ball when he deflected an attempted clearance into the net.
And Argentina’s patience was rewarded with a winner from Joaquin Correa with just over 10 minutes left on the clock and Messi himself played a crucial role in the game-deciding strike.
In Merida, Paraguay took the points with a 1-0 win over Venezuela, Gaston Gimenez scoring for the visitors with five minutes left. Brazil and Argentina top the group after winning both of their opening matches, while Paraguay, who drew with Peru in their opener, are third on four points.
Peru’s point keeps them above Venezuela and Bolivia, who have lost their first two matches.
The next round of games take place next month.
The top four from the 10-team group qualify directly for Qatar with the fifth-placed side going into an inter-confederation play-off. — Goal.com/givemesport