Santos, Velez Sarsfield through to semifinals

Brazilian sensation Neymar added another impressive goal to his

growing collection on Wednesday as his club Santos joined

Argentina’s Velez Sarsfield in the semifinals of the Copa

Libertadores.

Neymar also missed a late penalty as Santos drew 1-1 against

Colombia’s Once Caldas to progress 2-1 on aggregate, while

Maximiliano Moralez scored twice as Velez won 4-2 at Paraguay’s

Libertad for a 7-2 aggregate victory.

Santos will next face either Chiapas of Mexico or Paraguay’s

Cerro Porteno. Chiapas and Cerro drew 1-1 in Mexico.

Velez will take on the winner of the quarterfinal between

Uruguay’s Penarol and Chile’s Universidad Catolica. Penarol has a

2-0 lead ahead of the return in Chile.

The remaining two quarterfinals will be played on Thursday.

Neymar, one of the most coveted young players in Brazil, gave

Santos the lead against Once Caldas after collecting the ball in a

central position and driving a rising 20-meter (yard) shot past

goalkeeper Luis Martinez in the 12th minute.

Santos, which won the Sao Paulo state championship on Sunday,

looked to be cruising into the last four but Wason Renteria scored

from close range following a free kick in the 30th to put the tie

back in the balance.

Another goal would have put the Colombian side through, but

Santos always looked more likely to score in the second half, with

19-year-old Neymar the architect behind most attacks.

Ze Eduardo and Neymar both missed chances when clean through on

goal, before Neymar skipped past his marker and tempted Luis Nunez

into a rash challenge for a penalty in the 84th.

Neymar took the spot kick himself but saw his attempt saved by

Martinez.

The miss prompted a nervous finish to the game, but Santos held

on for victory.

In the day’s other quarterfinal, Velez held a 3-0 advantage from

the first leg in Argentina and the lead was never seriously

threatened.

Rodrigo Rojas briefly stoked Libertad’s hopes with a 44th-minute

volley from Miguel Samudio’s left-wing cross, but Moralez snuffed

out the revival within a minute, taking advantage of Arnaldo Vera’s

mistake to finish off Victor Zapata’s pass.

The goal left Libertad needing four second-half goals to

progress.

Manuel Maciel gave Libertad the lead again in the 51st with a

waist-high shot into the far corner from the left side of the box,

but Moralez hit another equalizer after a slick passing move in the

67th.

Guillermo Franco hit a penalty in the 86th and Augusto Fernandez

added a late fourth goal to secure the win for Velez.

Like Santos, Velez is also hunting a double trophy haul this

season. The Buenos Aires club leads the Argentine league and is

looking for a second Libertadores win to follow up its 1994

triumph.

”This is a great team that can achieve big things,” Moralez

said.