Brazil's Neymar puts four past Japan in friendly
Star forward Neymar plundered four goals for the first time in a Brazil shirt despite suffering from a cold as the Selecao hammered Asian champions Japan 4-0 in Singapore on Tuesday.sports Updated: Oct 16, 2014 13:50 IST
Star forward Neymar plundered four goals for the first time in a Brazil shirt despite suffering from a cold as the Selecao hammered Asian champions Japan 4-0 in Singapore on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old recorded one of his best performances for Brazil as he moved to 40 goals in just 58 appearances and underlined his fine form after a difficult World Cup.
Neymar's strikes in the 18th, 48th, 77th and 81st minutes - with both feet as well as his head - handed new coach Dunga a fourth straight win with no goals conceded.
The friendly victory in front of a sell-out crowd also capped a successful Asian mini-tour for resurgent Brazil after Saturday's 2-0 win over arch-rivals Argentina in Beijing.
Afterwards, Dunga said Neymar was revelling in his new role as national captain - and revealed that his sublime display came even though he picked up a cold in China.
"After the China match Neymar got a cold and I thought it was good to leave him more free to play only for goals," said Dunga.
"Now he's captain, it's a new position for him and he's really enjoying playing. He has a good time when he plays," added the coach.
"It's like he's playing with his friends - he has the same enthusiasm and keenness. And we really want to give him the chance to improve even more."
Japan coach Javier Aguirre said Neymar, who did not speak to journalists as he left in his trademark baseball cap and earrings, had hit top form.
"He's in great form, he's in a really splendid moment right now," Aguirre said.
Neymar tormenting defence
Neymar looked dangerous from the off and he had a penalty shout waved away and grazed the side-netting with a free-kick in an ominous start.
He put Brazil ahead on 18 minutes when he ran on to Diego Tardelli's penetrating through-ball, scampered around goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and finished with aplomb.
Japan were not prepared to roll over and Yu Kobayashi flashed a volley over the crossbar before Bundesliga top-scorer Shinji Okazaki almost found the target with a glancing header.
But their hopes receded three minutes after the break when half-time substitute Philippe Coutinho won possession in midfield and prodded the ball forward for Neymar.
With Japan's offside trap sprung, Neymar had plenty of time to pick his spot and put his second goal of the night past Kawashima.
Okazaki, now bolstered by substitute Keisuke Honda, remained industrious and he shook the Brazilian woodwork with a fierce shot that cannoned off the near post.
Neymar was tormenting the defence and he set up first Liverpool's Coutinho and then 65th-minute substitute Robinho for carbon-copy chances on the left which both went wide.
Kaka arrived to huge applause in the 72nd minute and he quickly drew the best from Kawashima as his firm header, from a Neymar cross, was palmed onto the bar.
But the ball was not cleared and although Kawashima kept out Coutinho's fierce drive, Neymar buried the rebound left-footed to seal his hat-trick on 77 minutes.
Four minutes later Neymar got his fourth of the night, and 40th for Brazil, when he met Kaka's hanging cross from the left at the far post.
Substitute Yoichiro Kakitani nearly grabbed a late consolation for Japan. But there was to be no fillip as the Blue Samurai look ahead to their Asian Cup defence in January.
"We've learned a few lessons: if you make mistakes against a big team, you'll lose. But I got to see the players in a difficult situation," said Aguirre.
"Of course I'm not happy to have lost but those players in the changing room really tried their best."