Starlet Neymar showed his pace and technique to race to the end line, setting up Edu Dracena's goal in the 1-0 victory over Cerro Porteno in the Copa competition
A magical run by Neymar set up a goal by Edu Dracena late in the first half as Santos edged Cerro Porteno 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores semi-final.
The young Neymar gained the ball at the top of the box and bolted for the end line before sending a soft chip to the back post where Edu Dracena jumped to his highest point, heading the ball off the crossbar and down into the net to start the celebration, putting Santastico one step closer to the final.
The win gives the Brazilians the advantage before next week's decisive tie in Paraguay, where one team will book a spot in the final to play the winner of Velez Sarsfield and Penarol.
In the early going, Santos were the better side. However, neither team did much of anything for the first 20 minutes other than pass poorly and fail to create chances.
Elano almost struck first 30 minutes in with a moving free kick that came close to entering the net, passing over the cross bar by a short distance.
Cerro defender Pedro Benitez had a glorious chance only five metres out when a redirected ball found his diving body, but he headed it wide by quite a distance.
Time passed with both teams showing poor form. That is, until Santos starlet worked his magic to set up the massive defender.
A minute after the home side took the lead, Benitez had another chance with a diving header off a cross, but Santos goalkeeper Rafael did just enough to keep it out with his leg.
Entering the second half, the sloppy play continued.
With twenty minutes to go, El Ciclon started to creep closer to goal, building up nicely but failing to find the vital last pass for a quality look on goal.
Just when Cerro started to gain momentum, Neymar almost got on the score sheet with a powerfully placed ball from the outside of the box to the back post. Diego Barreto, with his hand stretched vertically, knocked it over the bar to prevent Santos from doubling the score.
In the dying minutes, the visitors could not find the net, suffering it's second defeat to Santos after losing to them in the group stage.
The teams will meet again on Wednesday in Assuncion.
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