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Copa Libertadores: Neymar & Kardec goals send Santos into last-16 as group winners

The holders secured their place at the top of Group 1 with victory over the Strongest, and a meeting with Bolivar is their reward in the knockout stages of the premier competition

The Strongest
A late flurry of goals from reigning champions Santos finally broke the hearts of The Strongest, and ended the Bolivians' hopes of progressing to the knockout stages over Internacional.

The away side knew that only victory in Vila Belmiro coupled with defeat for Inter away to Juan Aurich would take them to the last-16, but they spent vast periods of the match on the back foot against a Santos team that swarmed forward. The Peixe had a total of 11 shots compared to the visitors' solitary effort, and only a combination of accomplished goalkeeping from Daniel Vaca and profligacy from the Brazilians kept the game at 0-0.

The deadlock was finally broken with just five minutes to go, when Alan Kardec glanced a header past Vaca to open the scoring. Any hopes The Strongest held for a comeback were sunk almost instantly, when Neymar struck to seal victory for his team and confirm them as Group 1 winners.

Santos finish comfortable leaders, five points clear of compatriots Inter. The Strongest, meanwhile, end the group stage in third place and exit the 2012 Copa Libertadores.
Juan Aurich
Porto Alegre giants Internacional slumped to a surprise defeat in Peru to put their Copa survival in some discomfort, although Santos' defeat of The Strongest meant that the Colorado qualify for the next round by just one point over the Bolivians.

The 2010 winners required a win in Chiclayo to guarantee their progress, although they knew that matching The Strongest's result would also be sufficient. In a gripping game, however, the favourites were shocked early on when Luis Tejada fired Juan Aurich into the lead with just 14 minutes on the clock.

Inter threw everything at their opponents in the hope of levelling, but an inspired performance from Diego Penny between the posts was a constant frustration to Leandro Damiao and his team-mates. Damiao was perhaps the most guilty of wasteful shooting, as he saw a host of decent chances go either to Penny or in to the stands while Inter meandered to their third defeat of the competition.

The defeat sees the Gaucho side qualify as the worst-placed of all 16 teams left in the Copa. Their reward will be a tantalising all-Brazil clash against Fluminense, who finished top of Group 4 having won five of their six matches so far.
Universidad de Chile
Atletico Nacional

Copa Sudamericana holders Universidad de Chile turned in an impressive performance in Santiago to condemn Atletico Nacional to their first defeat of the tournament, and steal the Group 8 summit from the Colombians in the final round.

Universidad and Nacional had already qualified for the last-16, but there was still plenty to play for as the teams disputed leadership of their group. The U took the initiative early on, when a ripping effort from Argentina hopeful Matias Rodriguez flew into the net after just 10 minutes. The Medellin side struggled against an on-form home team, but finally drew level after the break when Dorlan Pabon blasted past Johnny Herrera.

The parity was to last just six minutes, however, as the Azul retook the advantage in bizarre circumstances. Nacional's defence failed to react to Raul Ruidiaz's cross, and Oswaldo Gonzalez steered an awkward header home to restore his side's lead and seal the win.

Three points means that Universidad finish the group stage with 13 points, two clear of Nacional. The result sets the Chileans up with Deportivo Quito in the last-16, while the Colombians await a mouth-watering clash with Argentine powerhouses Velez Sarsfield.
Godoy Cruz
Uruguayan giants Penarol said goodbye to the 2012 Copa Libertadores in style on Thursday evening, coming from two goals behind to defeat Godoy Cruz and record their first victory of the competition.

With both sides already eliminated from Group 8, the final fixture was played only for pride which led to a pulsating display of attacking football. The Argentines settled first in Estadio Centenario, and raced into the lead with goals from Nicolas Sanchez and Diego Savillano inside the first 20 minutes. The Manya did not falter, however, and before the break pulled one back through Jorge Zambrana.

The match took on another dimension after half time. Rodrigo Mora's blistering effort levelled proceedings, and Maxi Perez gave the hosts the lead before Zambrano added another to extend the advantage for Penarol and give them a hard-fought victory.

The win fails to lift Penarol off the foot of Group 8, as they finish one point behind Godoy Cruz having lost four of their six fixtures in what was rightly considered one of the toughest groups prior to the start.