Neymar hat-trick as five-star Brazil cruise
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Neymar scored a hat-trick as Brazil crushed hosts South Africa 5-0 in a friendly at the venue of the 2010 World Cup final on Wednesday.
The Barcelona striker took his tally for his country to 30 after Brazil, who changed their strip at halftime from their traditional yellow and white colors to an all-blue kit, took the lead through Oscar after 10 minutes at Soccer City.
Fernandinho made a strong case for World Cup selection on his return to the side with a stunning long-range shot in the 79th minute as the 2014 hosts emphatically dealt with lightweight opponents.
A long ball from the right of midfield provided the early goal in front of 51,083 spectators, allowing Oscar to run on to a pass from Hulk before cleverly chipping over South Africa's debutant goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
Neymar attempted the same 19 minutes later as he got goal side of the home defense but his chip was touched away for a corner by the keeper.
There was little Williams could do in the 41st minute, however, when Neymar profited from poor marking at the end of a simple move that started with Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
His kick out was chested down by Fred, who let the ball run to Hulk, whose forward stab allowed Neymar to run wide of the defense and score with an angled shot from the left.
It took 26 seconds from the restart for Neymar to add a second, again taking advantage of comical defending to find himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, chipping the ball over the onrushing Williams to make it 3-0.
Just seconds later it could have been four but substitute Willian was just wide with his effort. Williams made a brave stop to deny Dani Alves in the last 15 minutes.
But the goalkeeper knew nothing about Fernandinho's rasping effort from well outside the box as the midfielder picked up on loose clearance to score.
Neymar completed his hat-trick on the stroke of full time with a close-range finish after Jo had played him in with a headed pass from Dani Alves's pass.
Brazil's only moment of defensive anguish came when Julio Cesar made a one-handed save to deny substitute Ayanda Patosi a goal with his first touch after coming on in the 63rd minute.
The five-goal loss was the heaviest suffered at home by South Africa, who hosted the last World Cup in 2010.