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  • Sheryll Mericido

Neymar breaks Pelé's record, becomes Brazil's top scorer

SAO PAULO — The 31-year-old football sensation Neymar cemented his place in history by breaking Pelé's long-standing record to become Brazil's all-time leading scorer. Neymar scored his 79th goal of the season in a South American World Cup qualifier against Bolivia in the Amazonian city of Belém, in a spectacular display of talent and tenacity.

The game's record-breaking play took place in the 61st minute, when Neymar displayed his scoring prowess with a precise close-range strike after a low cross into the penalty area. He scored his 78th goal for the Brazilian national team with this historic goal, breaking Pelé's previous record. Neymar gave this accomplishment a powerful fist pump in the air, evoking the legendary Pelé's famous celebrations.

Brazil absolutely dominated the game, defeating Bolivia 5-1 as a result of their performance. In addition to setting the record and helping the team win with a second goal in stoppage time to increase his tally for Brazil to 79 goals, Neymar was essential to the victory.

Al-Hilal's striker did experience some displeasure earlier in the game when, in the 17th minute, he missed a penalty because Bolivia's Billy Viscarra made an outstanding stop in goal. But Neymar swiftly made up for it, netting his second goal of the game in a similar fashion close to the end of regulation, this time turning in a low cross from Raphinha.

While FIFA does not count goals scored by Pelé in national team friendlies versus clubs, Brazil's soccer confederation does acknowledge him as the league's all-time leading scorer with 95 goals in 114 games.

Despite the disagreement over the statistics, Pelé's Foundation recognized Neymar's outstanding accomplishment, highlighting the importance of the occasion. The football community is still very much affected by the memories of Pelé, who passed away from cancer on December 29 in Sao Paulo at the age of 82.

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