By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Late Thursday night (October 6th), Brazil’s national football (soccer) team continued its impressive streak under new head coach Adenor Bacchi, known simply as Tite, routing Bolivia 5×0 in CONMEBOL (South American Football Confederation) World Cup qualifiers. Led by superstar, Neymar, the Seleção started fast, scoring four goals in the first period to seal the team’s third straight victory under Tite ahead of the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Brazil entered Thursday’s game, at Arena das Dunas stadium in Natal, as the heavy favorites having never lost a World Cup qualifier at home, while Bolivia had not won an away qualifier in 23 years.
The thirty thousand plus fans in attendance were on their feet from the opening whistle and their support was quickly rewarded.
At the eleven-minute mark, Brazil surprised Bolivia’s normally stout defense as both Manchester City-bound Gabriel Jesus and Neymar found themselves deep in Bolivia territory with only one defender back. After trading passes, Neymar casually tapped the ball into the exposed net for the game’s opening goal.
Fifteen minutes later, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho doubled Brazil’s lead, taking advantage of great ball movement from Giuliano and Dani Alves to poke home the game’s second goal from close range.
The Seleção added its third goal at the 39th minute thanks to Filipe Luis, who rocketed the ball past Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe after a beautiful set up from Neymar.
Minutes before the half, a fourth goal, off an impressive counter-attack again begun by Neymar, this time setting up Gabriel Jesus, closed Brazil’s dominant first period.
Scary moment for Brazil came late in the second period when Neymar collapsed after receiving a sharp elbow to the side of the head from Bolivia defender Yasmani Duk. Blood poured down the Barcelona forward’s face as he quickly received medical attention and was soon subbed out of the game.
Coutinho’s Liverpool teammate and late-game substitute, Roberto Firmino, scored an uncontested header at 75 minutes for the fifth and final goal of the game, securing Brazil’s 5×0 victory.
With the win, Brazil are currently in second place in the CONMEBOL qualifying table trailing leader Uruguay by just a point. For its next qualifying match, the Seleção travels to Mérida, Venezuela, to face a winless Venezuelan team on Tuesday, October 11th.