Neymar stole the show in Copa Libertadores on Wednesday night, scoring a hat trick for Santos. Elsewhere in South America, Velez Sarsfield and Boca Juniors were disappointing while Corinthians won comfortably.
After a disappointing start to the Copa Libertadores, Santos reasserted their status as favorites in the competition with a dominating performance against Internacional. Neymar was absolutely masterful, scoring a hat trick and only narrowly missing with a couple of other opportunities. His first goal was a penalty, but his second was one of the goals of the season; he scored at the end of a jaw-dropping maze of a 70-yard run through the entire Inter defense before scoring with a simple chip.
Brazilian football's 'other' young eleventy billion dollar starlet Leandro Damiao scored a goal to get his team back into the match in the 63rd minute, but Neymar answered just a minute later with a goal that was almost as good as his first as he torched the Internacional defense in similar fashion, this time starting from the half-way line instead of well into his own half.
Most expected Velez to grab a draw away in Ecuador against a Deportivo Quito side that hasn't been playing particularly well, but they got absolutely stomped. At the end of an even first half, Velez's Sebastián Domínguez gave away a penalty, which was converted by Matias Alustiza. That shifted the momentum of the game considerably and led to a Deportivo-dominated second half. Just three minutes into the second half, Fidel Martinez Tenorio headed in a free kick by captain Luis Saritama -- just back from injury this week -- to give his team a 2-0 lead. Saritama completed the rout with a goal of his own in the 70th minute.
Well, there's no blaming Julio Falcioni's boring tactics for this one. Boca Juniors got 10 shots on target on Wednesday night but could only score once against Fluminense and the wall that was Diego. Fred scored the opening goal in the 9th minute, getting a header under Agustin Orion that the Boca keeper should have been able to stop. Flu took their 1-0 lead into halftime, but Boca answered just after the whistle.
After Diego made a brilliant stop on a seemingly perfect Juan Roman Riquelme free kick, Leandro Somoza tapped in the rebound to equalize. Boca would not be level long, as Deco went on to score what would ultimately be the winner in the 54th minute. Once again, Orion let the ball go under him and should have made a stop.
Corinthians' plan to rest some of their stars and give Santos a clear path to a win over the weekend ultimately paid off. They've made no secret about the fact that the Libertadores is their priority, and they looked solid -- if unspectacular -- in their home win over Nacional. Danilo scored the opener in the 38th minute after a sustained period of pressure, assisted by Ignacio Don with some bad goalkeeping. Jorge Henrique netted the second in the 67th minute, assisted by a Danilo cross.