Written By: Abidoye Babatunde
Brazil opened up their World Cup Qualifying campaign with a 5-1 win at home to Bolivia, leaving the visitors winless in seven straight meetings between the sides.
The expected Brazilian onslaught on the Bolivia goal started immediately, but the visitors held firm despite conceding an early penalty when Adrián Jusino handled the ball. Neymar knew he had the chance to surpass Pele’s record of 78 goals and the stadium held its collective breath during his elongated run-up, but he only appeared to psyche himself out as Guillermo Viscarra held his tame effort and an anticlimactic feeling shuddered around the stadium. To their relief, the home crowd didn’t have to wait too much longer for the opener as Rodrygo scrambled the ball home from a yard out after a deflection fortuitously fell his way.
The visitors struggled to create any pressure on the Brazil goal, and the game was effectively over two minutes after the restart when Raphinha was allowed to work the ball onto his favoured left foot, and his deflected effort left Viscarra helpless. While there was an element of fortune with the Seleção’s first two goals, their third was a show of real class. An elegant flicked-through ball from Bruno Guimarães set Rodrygo free and he stalled the keeper with his eyes before stroking it in at the near post.
With the points secured, all that remained was Neymar’s historic moment and it came just after the hour mark. Another flowing move was worked into the box and the Brazilian talisman pounced on a cutback to sweep the ball home before taking in the acclaim from his teammates and the jubilant crowd. There were very few positives in the game for Bolivia, but they did score a cracker of a consolation goal as Víctor Ábrego broke clear before smashing a fine effort into the roof of the net from the edge of the box. There was still time for Neymar to strike once again as his side-footed effort somehow slipped past the goalkeeper deep into injury time to make it 5-1.
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The result leaves Brazil top of the group after the first round of games as they expect to qualify for another World Cup, while it doesn’t get much easier for Bolivia as they take on Argentina next.
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