Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar Jr. set aside his personal issues and arrived in Brazil like a man on a mission this summer. On Wednesday, he was in fine form as he led the national team to an impressive 2-0 away victory against Paraguay in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
Brazil is undefeated in the qualifying tournament so far, and last night’s performance is a warning to their upcoming Copa America opponents. Neymar struck a very early goal thanks to a Gabriel Jesus assist in the fourth minute to put Brazil ahead.
The PSG star has been embroiled in controversy in recent weeks, after former long-time sponsor Nike revealed that his contract was terminated due to his alleged “lack of cooperation” in an investigation into sexual harassment complaints put forward against him by an employee. Neymar has since denied knowledge of the complaint and has blasted Nike for their treatment of both himself as a sponsored athlete and of the employee.
Just days later, he joined the Seleçao to show that the drama did not bother him. He joined the national team squad and hit the ground running, showing his best form on the pitch.
After Neymar’s opening goal, Paraguay were not able to find an answer before Lucas Paqueta struck late into stoppage time to double the lead for Brazil. Casemiro and Fred managed to keep the other end of the field safe from Paraguay’s attack, allowing Brazil to come away with a comfortable 2-0 victory.
Brazil have now swept all six of their matches in the World Cup qualifying campaign, giving them a six-point lead over Argentina in the group table. In a few days, they will begin their controversial Copa America campaign. Brazil will be hosting the event despite their ongoing struggle against the novel coronavirus pandemic. The national team threatened a boycott, but have now agreed to play and have vowed to protest the move in another way.