Copa Libertadores Player of the Week: Leandro Damiao, Internacional

The Brazil international tied with Dorlan Pabon as the top scorer of the 2012 Copa, as a hat-trick against The Strongest increased his tally to five goals in the competition
Copa Libertadores Player of the Week: Leandro Damiao
Club: Internacional
Country: Brazil
Age: 22
Role: Striker
Achievement: Made up for last week's Neymar-inspired suffering with a triple of his own

In the build up to last week's Copa Libertadores clash between Santos and Internacional, there was only one theme on every observer's mind; who would triumph between Neymar and Leandro Damiao. The pair even joked about the meeting in the hours leading up to kick-off, but it was the young Santos star who was left laughing as he pulled off an unforgettable hat-trick - and leaving his friend's solitary effort in a 3-1 defeat looking poor in comparison. 

The 22-year-old centre forward, however, has proven countless times over the last year that, when it comes to hitting the target, there are few in South America that can match his ability. There were plenty of teams in Europe who were ready to take him in January if it was not for the admirable obstinance of Inter in refusing a sale, and Damiao keeps showing every indication that he is ready to repay their faith.

Dagoberto had put the Colorado up barely three minutes into Wednesday's clash with The Strongest and the Damiao show made sure that memories of Vila Belmiro and Neymar could start to fade. The first strike was classic Leandro, sneaking in front of his marker to power a header past the Bolivian keeper. The second, product of a well-placed through ball met perfectly by the youngster, was rejected at first asking by Daniel Vaca, but Damiao met the rebound well and poked home.

By the time the third came, Inter were well on the way to a comfortable victory. Another intricate through ball opened the door, and this time the striker needed just one bite at the cherry to finish his triple and claim the match ball. Damiao now has five Libertadores goals from as many games in 2012, and if he and Inter continue on the same trajectory, it would take a brave man to bet against him beating Roberto Nanni and Wallyson's seven which claimed them the top scorer award of the past year. Not to mention a certain young, curiously-styled Peixe forward, who managed 'only' six in his club's glorious run of 2011...

Honourable Mentions

Johnnier Montano, Alianza Lima
: The talented Colombian never delivered on the potential which saw him become an international goalscorer and transferred to Parma at just 16 years old, but in his final game for Alianza the old magic was definitely still there. Montano bossed the midfield and set up Jose Fernandez's solitary goal, in a 1-0 victory over Uruguay's Nacional.

Mariano Pavone, Lanus: Despite controlling Tuesday's meeting in Buenos Aires, the Grana struck the woodwork twice and appeared unable to grab a decisive goal against Emelec. Pavone had other ideas though; the ex-Betis and River man struck from close-range to seal a narrow victory which keeps Lanus' Copa hopes alive.