Brazil striker Neymar scored
a sublime opening goal as he inspired Santos to a clinical 3-1
victory over Japan's Kashiwa Reysol in their Club World Cup
semi-final in Toyota on Wednesday.
The Libertadores Cup holders are expected to face European
champions Barcelona in the final, barring the unthinkable in
Barca's semi-final against Qatar's Al Sadd on Thursday.
"We attacked with real purpose today and took our chances
well," Santos coach Muricy Ramalho told reporters after the
Brazilians saw off Reysol with three impressive goals.
"We have good skill throughout the team and finishing
ability, which was the difference between the teams tonight.
"There was no luck about the win and the goals were no
surprise to me - Neymar, Borges and Danilo always score these
kind of goals."
Neymar, coveted by a host of top European clubs, struck fear
into Reysol every time he touched the ball and he hit the post
after five minutes.
The 19-year-old pin-up with the blond, mohican haircut put
Santos ahead after 19 minutes, curling a fabulous shot into the
top corner after deftly switching the ball from right to left.
Santos, crowned South American champions in June for the
third time in almost 50 years after Pele led them to
back-to-back titles, looked capable of scoring at will early on.
Neymar's strike partner Borges smashed home a second goal
from the edge of the box in the 24th minute as Santos flexed
their muscles and the floodgates threatened to burst open.
Defender Hiroki Sakai threw Reysol a lifeline with a
powerful header nine minutes into the second half, until Danilo
bent a breathtaking free kick around the wall in the 63rd minute
to slam the door on the J-League title holders.
Substitute Ibson rattled the crossbar as classy Santos came
close to a deserved fourth goal, roared on by a large section of
noisy supporters among the crowd of 30,000.
"We've played three matches in eight days," said Kashiwa
coach Nelsinho, sacked by Santos in 2005. "We created chances
but paid for not taking them."
On such form, Santos will be hard to beat, even by
Barcelona, who are chasing a second Club World Cup title in
Barcelona's semi-final against Asian champions Al Sadd and
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