Neymar scored three goals as Brazil thrashed China 8-0 on Monday, rebounding from a lackluster win over South Africa and easing the pressure on coach Mano Menezes.
Neymar, who was among those jeered three days previously after the poor performance against South Africa, scored in the 26th, 54th and 60th minutes at the Arruda Stadium in the northeastern city of Recife.
Ramires opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, Lucas added another in the 48th and Hulk got his goal in the 51st minute. Brazil also scored through an own-goal by China’s Liu Jianye in the 71st minute and Oscar sealed the victory by converting a penalty in the 75th.
Brazil beat South Africa 1-0 on Friday as fans in Sao Paulo loudly jeered the team, especially Neymar and Menezes, who was booed nearly every time he left the bench to give instructions to players or to make substitutions.
The pressure for the coach to resign had increased significantly last month after he failed to lead Brazil to the Olympic gold medal, despite a squad filled with most of his top players.
The crowd of nearly 30,000 fans at the Arruda applauded the national team after Monday’s match was over, though, and even Menezes was celebrated.
“Without the support from the fans everything becomes a lot harder,” fullback Daniel Alves said. “It was important to have the fans on our side tonight.”
It was the first time Brazil had won by more than four goals since the coach took over after the 2010 World Cup.
Brazil did not play great against China, but faced fewer difficulties than they did against South Africa, controlling possession and threatening from the beginning.
Ramires put Brazil on the board after a give-and-go with Chelsea teammate Oscar. He received the ball in front of the net and chipped it over the goalkeeper.
Neymar added to the lead with an easy goal from the six-yard line after another pass by Oscar. Hulk, who scored the late winner against South Africa, started a breakaway on the right and Neymar sent a low shot into the open net with no one near him.
Hulk set up the third goal too, clearing a defender outside the area and rolling the ball to Lucas, who had time to fire a low shot into the net. Hulk’s goal came with a shot from outside the area after getting the rebound off Neymar’s long-range shot onto the crossbar.
“The team played with a lot of heart from the beginning,” Hulk said. “We never gave up and that made the difference, it allowed us to get this big win.”
Neymar easily scored his second goal by latching onto a cross by Marcelo, then got his third from inside the area after another pass by Oscar, who got on the board by converting a penalty just moments after Lie found his own net while trying to clear a ball inside the area.
Brazil are not playing in South American World Cup qualifying because they have already secured a place in the 2014 tournament as the hosts.
The five-time world champions will play the “Clasico of the Americas,” a home-and-away series against archrivals Argentina, on Sept. 19 and Oct. 3, and then face Japan in a friendly in Poland on Oct. 16.