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Neymar and Ganso were overshadowed by the efforts of the young ex-Quilmes midfielder, who played his heart out in both defence and attack to lead his side to victory

Copa Libertadores Player of the Week: Francisco Cerro
Club: Velez Sarsfield
Country: Argentina
Age: 24
Role: Centre Midfield
Achievement: An all-action display that shackled Santos' stars on the way to victory

In a game that included the much-hyped talents of Neymar and Ganso, as well as the experience of Elano and not forgetting the explosive skills of Velez's Argentina international Juan Manuel Martinez, it may come as some surprise to find out the winner of this week's award, the standout star of that match was a young midfielder who just 12 months ago was fighting for his life to avoid playing in the Nacional B.

Santiago del Estero native Francisco Cerro made his debut with Quilmes as a teenager, and played a big part in the Cerveceros winning promotion to the Primera Division during the 2010-11 season. That proved to be a short visit to the top flight, followed by automatic relegation the following year despite a gutsy late-season surge; but Cerro did enough to prove his worth to Velez, who signed him up on a loan deal to keep him amongst the big boys.

They do not get much bigger in South America than Muricy Ramalho's Copa Libertadores holders, and young Francisco proved himself more than up to the challenge sharing the pitch with Santos' household names. The 24-year-old put in a storming box-to-box performance, as effective creating the play around the Peixe box as he was stopping it near his own. Neymar for one will remember crossing the unheralded destroyer, who flattened him with a crushing yet fair tackle that was the hallmark of the battling Fortin on the night.

The game was eventually decided by one goal, and Cerro played a vital part in putting his side ahead. An exocet crossfield ball was picked up on the left by Emiliano Papa, stretching the notoriously shaky Santos defence. The left-back had time and space to swing in the cross, that was met by Mauro Obolo to head in and put Velez into the advantage. A solitary strike is a slender margin to take into a Vila Belmiro ground that saw eight smashed past hapless Bolivar days ago; but if Cerro and the rest of the Fortin can repeat their defensive heroics in the second leg, the semi-final may just be in reach for the Argentine battlers.

Honourable Mentions

Pablo Mouche, Boca Juniors: Finished impeccably past the on-form Diego Cavalieri to give Boca a 1-0 victory over Fluminense, on a night worth celebrating for Argentine clubs over their traditional continental adversaries.

Rodrigo Munoz, Libertad: The Paraguayans would have hoped for more from their first leg against Universidad de Chile, but it could have been much worse if not for the goalkeeper's efforts. Munoz conceded once in a 1-1 home draw, but made several top-drawer saves to ensure the two sides go to Santiago level.

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