In a resounding 5-1 victory against Bolivia in a World Cup qualifying match, Neymar of Al Hilal fame notched his 78th and 79th goals for the Brazilian national team. In doing so, he achieved a remarkable feat by surpassing Pele's long-standing record as the all-time top scorer for Brazil's national team, as Pele's career tally stood at 77 goals against national teams.
Neymar's 78th goal came in the 61st minute of the match, marking Brazil's fourth goal in the game. Later, during injury time, he sealed the victory with his 79th goal. The record-breaking moment occurred when a low cross into the penalty box found Neymar, who calmly slotted the ball home from close range. His celebratory gesture—a triumphant punch in the air—echoed Pele's iconic celebrations.
Overwhelmed with emotion, Neymar expressed, "I am very happy, no words for this achievement. I never envisioned reaching this record."
Earlier in the game, Neymar had a penalty opportunity in the 17th minute, but Bolivia's goalkeeper, Billy Viscarra, denied him.
Neymar's second goal mirrored his first, with another precise finish following a low cross from Raphinha, occurring near the end of the match.
While Brazil's football confederation recognizes Pele as the top goal scorer with 95 goals in 114 matches, FIFA does not count goals Pele scored in national team friendlies against clubs. Despite this discrepancy, the Brazilian football body celebrated Neymar's achievement, stating on social media, "78 times Neymar," while Rodrigues reiterated that Neymar had become "the all-time top goal-scorer for Brazil in matches against national teams."
Pele's Foundation, acknowledging Neymar's achievement, congratulated him on social media: "Congratulations, Neymar Jr, for surpassing the King in goals for the Brazilian National Team in official FIFA matches. Surely Pele is applauding you today!"
Neymar humbly emphasized, "I want to say that this [the record] doesn't mean I am better than him [Pele] or than any national team player. I always wanted to write my story in the national team, and today I did that."
In the same match, Real Madrid's Rodrygo also shone with a double, opening the scoring in the 24th minute and adding his second goal in the 52nd, courtesy of a brilliant through ball from Newcastle United's Bruno Guimaraes, extending Brazil's lead to 3-0.
Rodrygo, a 22-year-old rising star, expressed his admiration for Neymar: "It really is a very special day … Neymar is my idol, being able to help him become the top scorer will stay with me forever."
Neymar's recent journey with the national team included doubts about his future following a World Cup quarterfinal loss to Croatia. However, he returned with determination under new Brazil coach Fernando Diniz, who lauded Neymar as a "great hero" and emphasized his natural talent as the source of his adoration from fans.