Brazil playmaker Neymar scored one goal and set up two more to spark the five-time World Cup champions past the US 4-1 on Wednesday in an international friendly.
Brazil used the match to study talent ahead of the London Olympics, with 17 Olympic-eligible players on the squad, including Neymar, the 20-year-old Santos forward who has attracted interest from many of the world’s top clubs.
“It’s not every day one can apply dribbling over the head and between the legs, but I had a goal and two decisive passes, so I’m pretty happy about that,” Neymar said.
Brazil improved to 16-1 against the US, winning for the ninth time in a row since suffering their only defeat, 1-0, in 1998 and they did so with a young squad looking to London and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“It’s a great satisfaction,” Neymar said. “We all knew the doors would open for the national team and we’re all happy about that.”
A crowd of 67,619 saw Brazil, coming off a 3-1 victory over Denmark on Saturday, end a US five-match winning streak, which included a 1-0 win over Italy and a 5-1 victory over Scotland last Saturday.
“I didn’t expect this, really, but I saw the confidence of young players and I knew we could trust them. The response was very good,” Brazil coach Mano Menezes said. “You can see in the faces of the players they can feel the accomplishment. We played better than we did against Denmark. We need to improve every game.”
US coach Jurgen Klinsmann was impressed with Neymar and his teammates, but saw flaws compared with past Brazilian dynasties.
“Neymar and the technical skills he has, he has the freshness to try things out — he does things you don’t expect,” Klinsmann said. “They have a very good young team. It’s a promising team, but it’s a beatable team.”
The US are preparing for the start of their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign on June 8 against Antigua and Barbuda.
“We’re ready for qualifiers,” said US forward Herculez Gomez, who scored the lone goal for the hosts in the 45th minute. “We played well in stretches. We learned some things from this match. Once we get a little nasty, I feel like we will be a lot better off.”
Neymar opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 12th minute after US defender Oguchi Onyewu was whistled for blocking a shot with his left forearm.
US goalkeeper Tim Howard dived to his right as Neymar fired into the open side, netting his ninth goal in 17 matches for Brazil.
The visitors took a 2-0 lead in the 26th minute when Neymar lofted a corner-kick into the heart of the penalty area and Brazil captain Thiago Silva headed the ball in.
Gomez, a striker for Santos of Mexico, answered for the hosts, taking a cross from onrushing defender Fabian and deflecting the ball in to trim the halftime deficit to 2-1.
Neymar set up Brazil’s third goal, flicking a backward pass to Real Madrid defender Marcelo, who blasted the ball past a helpless Howard in the 52nd minute for a 3-1 lead.
Brazil closed the rout in the 88th minute with a left-footed blast by AC Milan’s Alexandre Pato.
“It’s bad. It’s not the end of the world,” Howard said. “It hurts.”