Brazil thrashes South Africa 5-0

SAMUEL PETREQUIN AP Sports Writer Published:

LONDON (AP) -- Brazil showed its national team is in better shape than the country's stadiums with a 5-0 thrashing of South Africa on Wednesday as teams prepared for the World Cup in a series of friendly matches.

With just 99 days before the tournament kicks off, four World Cup stadiums are still under construction in Brazil and much work outside the venues remains to be done.

In Johannesburg, the five-time world champions were ruthless at Soccer City as Barcelona striker Neymar claimed his second career hat trick for the Selecao.

Russia honed its preparations for the World Cup with a 2-0 win over Armenia and Japan claimed a 4-2 win over New Zealand.

World Cup holder Spain was up against Italy in a rematch of the Euro 2012 final and France hosted the Netherlands in late matches.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari fielded a team similar to the one that won the Confederations Cup last year for his players' final friendly before the announcement of the World Cup squad.

Neymar took his international tally to 30 goals, with Chelsea playmaker Oscar and Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho also getting on the scoresheet.

Despite Fred's poor form over the past few months, Scolari kept faith with the Fluminense striker, who again struggled against the Bafana Bafana and was substituted after 62 minutes. In contrast, the 22-year-old Neymar teased South Africa defenders throughout.

He scored his first goal before the interval with a low left-footed shot, made it 3-0 with a subtle chip and rounded off his team's win from close range. Scolari will name his squad on May 7 and there is no doubt Neymar will be selected if he stays fit.

Russia defeated Armenia courtesy of first-half goals from Alexander Kokorin and Dmitry Kombarov. Russia coach Fabio Capello made four changes at the interval and two more substitutions later on as the former England manager assessed his players' form before a final warm-up against Slovakia in May.

"All our players were in different physical conditions, but generally I'm satisfied with the team's presentation," Capello said.

Having lost his momentum at Manchester United, where he only plays intermittently, Shinji Kagawa scored from the spot and had an assist as Japan continued its preparations for Brazil with a comfortable win over New Zealand. The hosts were 4-0 by the 17th minute after Shinji Okazaki scored a brace and Masato Morishige added another goal.

Park Chu-young marked his return to South Korea's national team by scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Greece in a game between two World Cup teams.