Neymar scored one goal and set up two others to help Brazil defeat Panama 4-0 in a World Cup warm-up match on Tuesday.
Neymar broke the deadlock with a well-struck free kick from just outside the area in the 26th minute, and then sent a perfect back-heel pass for Hulk to score less than a minute into the second half. Neymar also started the move that led to Willian scoring in the 73rd.
Neymar’s Barcelona teammate Dani Alves had struck Brazil’s second goal with a right footed shot in the 40th.
Brazil had been struggling until the first goal and fans had started to jeer their team at the nearly packed Serra Dourada Stadium in the central city of Goiania.
It was Brazil’s second-to-last match before the World Cup opener against Croatia on June 12 in Sao Paulo. The five-time world champion will play Serbia on Friday, also in Sao Paulo.
Panama was in control and created most of the scoring chances in the early stages, upsetting fans and prompting Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari to leave his bench several times to talk to his players.
The more than 30,000 fans at the Serra Dourada were starting to jeer when Neymar was pulled down at the edge of the area for the foul that led to his goal. He curled a right footed shot over the wall and into the upper left corner of the net to get the crowd behind the team again.
Neymar several times turned to the fans and asked them to cheer and keep supporting the team. The squad was loudly applauded after the final whistle.
Brazil was already playing better when Alves’ shot from outside the area found the far corner, and then Hulk took advantage of Neymar’s back-heel to score the third goal with a low cross shot.
Neymar began the move for Brazil’s fourth goal with a nice through pass to Maxwell, who crossed the ball for an easy goal by Willian.
Neymar applauded the crowd when it repeatedly chanted his name after he nearly scored with a bicycle kick late in the match.
Brazil was without captain Thiago Silva, who stayed at the team’s training camp outside Rio de Janeiro to improve his physical condition. Reserve midfielder Fernandinho also didn’t travel to Goiania to work on his fitness, while Paulinho didn’t make the trip because of a minor left ankle injury. All three players are expected to be fit to play against Serbia.
Dante replaced Thiago Silva and Ramires substituted Paulinho. Maicon, Hernanes and Maxwell were added for the start of the second half, while Jo, Willian and Henrique came on later.
Earlier on Tuesday, a few dozen people protested in front of the team’s hotel to complain about the money being spent by the country on the World Cup. Police had to intervene to keep them from disturbing the players.
The national team had already been targeted by demonstrators when it began its preparations in Rio. Protesters banged on the team’s bus and attached dozens of stickers with comments against the World Cup.