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Neymar doubles up from the spot in big Brazil win

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SEOUL: Neymar scored two calmly taken penalties to move to within four goals of Pele at the top of the country’s all-time scoring list as fired a World Cup warning with a 5-1 thrashing of fellow qualifiers South Korea at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Thursday.

Neymar’s status for the match had been up in the air after he suffered a right foot injury during training on Wednesday but he was the star of the show, netting either side of halftime to move onto 73 goals in 118 appearances for his country and close in on the three-time World Cup winner’s record in a comfortable win for Tite’s side.

Richarlison gave Brazil the lead in the seventh minute and, although Hwang Ui-jo levelled for Korea just after the half-hour mark, it was the visitors who always looked more likely to prevail.

Neymar netted from the spot to put his side back in front three minutes before halftime and he was on hand with another penalty in the 57th minute before late goals from Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus put the seal on a comprehensive win.

Brazil will next play Japan in Tokyo on Monday, while South Korea host Chile on the same day.

World Cup-bound Japan said they were primed to test themselves against the mighty Brazil after a comprehensive 4-1 win over Paraguay in Sapporo on Thursday.

Striker Takuma Asano opened the scoring against Paraguay with a clinical finish in the 36th minute and Daichi Kamada doubled his side’s advantage six minutes later to hand Hajime Moriyasu’s team a two-goal cushion.

Derlis Gonzalez pulled one back for the visitors in the 59th minute, but Kaoru Mitoma struck less than a minute later, before Ao Tanaka came off the bench to hit a late fourth after Ritsu Doan had seen his penalty saved.

“We are facing Brazil next and they play at a high level,” said Asano. “We need to see what we’re capable of doing against them and we just have to throw everything at them and try to keep that going.”

On Wednesday, Australia overhauled Jordan 2-1 in a friendly in Doha to bring winning form into their World Cup playoff against the United Arab Emirates next week.

Awer Mabil sealed the win with a clever volley in the 68th minute after Bailey Wright cancelled out a stunning long-range strike from Mousa Al-Tamari early on.

Should Australia get past UAE on Tuesday, they will battle Peru in an intercontinental playoff in the Qatari capital six days later for a spot in Group ‘D’ at the World Cup.

Elsewhere, Chelsea star Christian Pulisic played a leading role as the United States launched their final preparations for the World Cup with a convincing 3-0 friendly win over fellow qualifiers Morocco.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2022

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