Neymar scores hat trick, surpasses Robinho's mark
Neymar is not wasting any time in making his mark with Santos as his latest hat trick moves him past Robinho on the list of the team's greatest goalscorers.
Neymar scored three times in the 5-0 rout of Guaratingueta in the Sao Paulo state championship on Thursday, reaching 95 career goals with Santos to surpass Robinho's mark of 94.
The 20-year-old Neymar needed 40 fewer games than Robinho to reach the mark, and is now the fourth highest scorer in the post-Pele era, and the 25th all-time. Neymar has played 173 games with Santos so far.
Neymar downplayed his feat after the match.
''I don't play to be the best all time or to pass someone on a list,'' he said. ''Robinho is my idol. I'm doing what I have always done. I've never changed.''
Neymar is just nine goals behind Joao Paulo and Serginho Chulapa, the top scorers since Pele played for the team in the 1960s and scored nearly 1,100 goals. Juary has 101 goals.
Neymar has scored 14 goals in 14 matches this season, including four in the Copa Libertadores.
The forward was involved in all five goals at the Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos on Thursday. He opened the scoring with a strike from close range just four minutes into the match and added the others by converting penalty kicks in the 42nd and 87th minutes. He also started the plays that led to Santos' other two goals, scored by striker Borges in the 26th and defender Juan in the 36th.
The victory moved Santos to fourth in the 20-team standings in the Sao Paulo state tournament, four points behind leader Sao Paulo. The top eight teams will advance to the playoff round. Santos is the competition's defending champion.
''Neymar is improving in all aspects,'' Santos coach Muricy Ramalho said. ''It's very difficult to stop him, to mark him. The defender may steal a ball or two, but Neymar will eventually get through. He makes a difference.''
The coach said Neymar has the potential to become the star to lead the national team when Brazil hosts the World Cup in 2014.
''I think he will be playing his best during the World Cup and will help Brazil win the title,'' Ramalho said.
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