Brazil's No. 10 conquers Japan, S'porean hearts, never mind sand
HE CAME, he starred, he conquered - not just Japan, but also the hearts of Singapore's football fans.
Barcelona star Neymar scored all four goals as Brazil routed Japan 4-0 in their international football friendly at the Singapore Sports Hub last night.
He was the best player by a mile, as he tormented the Japanese defence throughout the match, and thoroughly deserved his goal harvest.
Watched by a packed 51,577-strong crowd at the National Stadium, the five-time World Cup winners tore the Japanese apart as they set up Neymar to score in the 18th, 48th, 77th and 81st minutes.
It is the first time the 22-year-old had scored four times in a game for the Selecao.
The pitch, which was criticised by both teams before the match, was still sandy at kick-off. The ball bobbed around the field, while players kicked up ball and sand at times.
Outside the stadium, fans reported long queues and traffic jams, while inside, the media was left frustrated by the intermittent wireless Internet access.
Fortunately, the football flowed and Neymar netted the first when he latched on to a through ball, calmly rounded Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and fired into the roof of the net.
Three minutes after the break, he destroyed the Blue Samurai's offside trap when he timed his run to perfection, collected Oscar's pass and slotted home for his second.
In the 77th minute, Kawashima spilled Philippe Coutinho's stinging shot and the Barcelona striker swooped to tap in with his left foot, and with nine minutes to go, he went airborne to nod in Kaka's cross from the left.
And as the fans flowed out of Kallang, the abiding feeling is that, yes, the pitch is sandy and causes the ball to bobble. But the magic of Brazil's No. 10 made football look so easy.