Neymar breaks Pele's goal-scoring record in big win for Brazil

South American giants ease to 5-1 win over Bolivia in 2026 World Cup qualifiers

Brazil's forward Neymar celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2026 FIFA World Cup South American qualifiers football match between Brazil and Bolivia at the Jornalista Edgar Proença 'Mangueirao' stadium, in Belem, state of Para, Brazil, on September 8, 2023.  Neymar became Brazil's all-time top scorer on Friday surpassing Pele's record.  (Photo by CARL DE SOUZA  /  AFP)
Powered by automated translation

Neymar said it was a humbling experience as he surpassed the legendary Pele as Brazil's all-time top scorer with two second-half goals in a 5-1 win over Bolivia in South America's 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

The striker, 31, went into the game level with Pele on 77 goals and had a golden chance to break the record in the 17th minute when Brazil were awarded a penalty.

But his soft spot-kick was easily saved by Bolivia keeper Guillermo Viscarra. Seven minutes later, Brazil got in front when Rodrygo reacted quickly to slot home after a shot from Raphinha was parried by Viscarra.

Brazil doubled their lead just after the break when Raphinha cut in from the left and his low shot took a deflection into the bottom corner.

Neymar had a hand in Brazil's third, with a clever chipped pass that was flicked on by Bruno Guimaraes into the path of Rodrygo who did not miss.

Then came the big moment as Neymar pounced on a loose ball inside the box and tucked away his 78th goal in his 125th game for his country.

“I am very happy, no words for this,” Neymar said he was handed a plaque for the feat. “I never thought I would reach this record.”

While Brazil federation chief Ednaldo Rodrigues stated Neymar had become “the all-time top goal-scorer for Brazil in matches against national teams", the late Pele's foundation acknowledged Neymar's achievement.

“Congratulations, Neymar Jr, for surpassing the King in goals for the Brazilian National Team in official FIFA matches,” it said on social media. “Surely Pele is applauding you today!”

Neymar, however, reiterated that his record does not put him above the great Pele, who died from cancer in Sao Paulo at the age of 82.

“I want to say that this the record doesn't mean I am better than him [Pele] or than any national team player,” Neymar added in his short statement. “I always wanted to write my story in the national team, and today I did that.”

Neymar extended his record tally, connecting with a low ball from Raphinha in stoppage time to complete a 5-1 victory.

The 31-year-old former Barcelona striker recently moved from Paris Saint-Germain to Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal in one of the biggest signings of a high-profile summer for the kingdom.

Brazil's all-time top scorers

Updated: September 09, 2023, 12:53 PM