Neymar showed why Europe’s best all want to sign him as he inspired Santos to a 3-1 victory over Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol in a Club World Cup semi-final in Toyota.
The Libertadores Cup holders are expected to face European champions Barcelona in this weekend’s final, barring the unthinkable in Barca’s semi-final against Qatar’s Al Sadd on Thursday.
Neymar was brilliant. He put Santos ahead after 19 minutes, curling a superb, left-foot shot into the top corner from 25 yards. That goal came after Neymar had already hit the post.
Borges made it 2-0 for the Brazilians in the 24th minute as Santos flexed their muscles and the floodgates threatening to burst open.
But give Kashiwa Reysol credit as they never buckled under the Santos power and when defender Hiroki Sakai scored with apowerful header nine minutes into the second half it was game on.
That was until Danilo bent a breathtaking free kick around the wall in the 63rd minute to slam the door on the J-League title holders.
The FIFA World Club Final has never lived up to expectations. Yes some South America teams have won it, but that was usually 1-0 in a door, defensive game.
Santos is different in that they play the Samba style of football. Set your DVR for Sunday as the potential match against Barcelona in the final promises to be an incredible exhibition of football with Messi and Neymar pulling the strings for their teams.
Substitute Ibson rattled the crossbar as Santos came close to a fourth goal. On such form, the Brazilians will be hard to beat, even by Barcelona, who are chasing a second Club World Cup title in three years.
Barcelona’s semi-final against Asian champions Al Sadd and Sunday’s championship match both take place in Yokohama.