SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Neymar shrugged off a cold to score all four goals in a sumptuous display as five-times world champions Brazil routed an under-strength Japan 4-0 in a friendly on Tuesday to maintain Dunga’s perfect start since returning as coach.
The Brazilian skipper took his impressive tally to 40 goals in 58 matches after his strikes against the shabby Asian champions on a patchy National Stadium pitch deemed “far short of international standards” by Singapore’s Football Association.
Neymar had no problems with the poor surface, however, as the Barcelona striker entertained the 51,577 crowd with flicks and tricks around his cool finishes in a display fitting of the famous yellow number 10 jersey.
Brazilian great Pele was a previous wearer of the shirt and is the country’s record scorer with 77 goals, but the 22-year-old Neymar is sure to better the mark if he continues to deliver such high-calibre displays.
“We have told him he still has a lot of areas where he can improve,” Dunga told reporters after making it four wins out of four with no goals conceded since returning in July.
“Now that he is captain he has more responsibility and status in the Brazil team, he has responded well but still looks like he is playing with his friends, yet we still want to see him play even better.”
Neymar rattled the post with a free kick just before opening the scoring in the 18th minute when he rounded Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and lashed the ball into an empty net after being put clear by Diego Tardelli.
The goal allowed Brazil, who had been lethargic after the heavy travel schedule and Saturday’s 2-0 win over Argentina in Beijing, to slow the tempo against the Asian champions, who were missing the injured Shinji Kagawa and opted to start with Keisuke Honda and Yuto Nagatomo on the bench.
Honda came on at the start of the second period but it was the Brazilian bench who had a greater impact, with replacement Philippe Coutinho slipping a ball through Japan’s porous backline to Neymar, who slotted home a second in the 48th minute.
The hard-working Shinji Okazaki almost pulled one back but he rattled the post from a narrow angle in a brief highlight for a team still struggling to adapt to their new Mexican coach Javier Aguirre.
Dunga, criticized at home for being too negative before his first stint ended in 2010, has had no such issues as he continues to fix up a battered team humiliated 7-1 in this year’s World Cup semi-final by Germany.
He brought on Robinho and Kaka, who almost scored with his first touch but the forward’s 77th-minute header was pushed on to the bar by Kawashima.
Japan, though, failed to clear and when a shot came back in from the left the goalkeeper could only palm the ball straight to Neymar who swept it home.
Kaka then turned provider as he swung over a cross from the left and Neymar leapt highest to head home in the 81st minute.
Additional reporting by John O'Brien. Editing by Ed Osmond