Neymar surpassed Ronaldo and moved to second on Brazil’s all-time goalscoring list with a hat-trick in a 4-2 win against Peru in World Cup qualifying.
Two penalties and a last-minute tap-in took the Paris Saint-Germain forward’s tally to 64 for his country, two ahead of Ronaldo and 13 behind Pele’s all-time record of 77.
Everton’s Richarlison scored Brazil’s other goal as the five-time world champion twice had to come from behind to secure the win.
Brazil head coach Tite told reporters after the match that it was “unfair” to compare Neymar and Ronaldo.
“What I can say is Neymar has this unpredictability,” he said. “He is the bow and the arrow, he’s a player who both makes and takes chances. And he gets better and better, and more mature.”
The match had a number of controversial VAR moments, particularly the decision to award Neymar a second penalty late in the game with the score tied at 2-2, a decision which surprised even the Brazilian players.
Peru’s anger was compounded in stoppage time when Carlos Zambrano was shown a red card for an elbow on Richarlison. The Everton forward had escaped punishment for a similar incident earlier in the match that left Peru’s Miguel Trauco with a bloody wound above his eye.
The latest incidents added to a growing list of decisions that have left South American fans scratching their heads during this international break, the first time VAR has been used in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers
Brazil’s victory ensures it begins the grueling 18-month campaign with a 100% record to top the standings on six points along with Argentina, which secured an impressive 2-1 win in the altitude of La Paz, Bolivia earlier in the day.
The top four teams will qualify automatically for Qatar 2022, with the fifth-placed team competing in a two-legged playoff against a country from another continent.