|Brazilian wonderkid Neymar will be looking forward to chance of facing Lionel Messi in final [GALLO/GETTY]|
South American champions Santos advanced to the Club World Cup final after beating Japanese club Kashiwa Reysol 3-1 on Wednesday.
The result sets up a possible showdown between Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Brazil teenager Neymar.
The 19-year-old Neymar, who is touted to be the next big star in football, scored one of the Brazilian club’s goals. Borges and Danilo scored the others for Santos, the former club of Pele.
Barcelona will take on Qatari club Al-Sadd in the other semifinal match on Thursday, with the Club World Cup final set for Sunday in Yokohama.
“We have skill and the ability to finish. The difference (tonight) was in the skills”
Santos coach Muricy Ramalho
Neymar, who injured his right leg late in the first half after a collision with a teammate and temporarily left the field, scored the opening goal in the 19th minute. He took a pass from Ganso and moved to his right while guarded by two Kashiwa defenders, then switched the ball to his left foot and scored from 20 meters.
“We were able to make an effective offence and score goals,” Santos coach Muricy Ramalho said.
“We have skill and the ability to finish. The difference (tonight) was in the skills.”
Borges made it 2-0 in the 24th from the edge of the 18-yard box. He took the ball with his back to the net, dribbled to his right and then shot into the back right corner of the net over a diving Takanori Sugeno, the Kashiwa goalkeeper.
Kashiwa pulled a goal back in the 54th when defender Hiroki Sakai rose to meet a corner from Jorge Wagner and headed it past Santos goalkeeper Rafael Cabral. But Danilo made it 3-1 when he bent a 25-meter free kick around the Kashiwa wall in the 63rd.
“This tournament has given the team good experience,” said Kashiwa coach Nelsinho, who once played for Santos.
“We have had three matches in eight days, but were still able to create scoring chances. We could not capitalise
on our opportunities.”
Earlier, Mexican club Monterrey secured fifth place by rallying for a 3-2 win over Esperance Sportive of Tunisia.
Esperance Sportive took the lead when Yannick Ndjeng scored with a solo effort in the 31st minute, but Monterrey recovered with three quick goals.
Hiram Mier equalised in the 39th, Aldo De Nigris made it 2-1 in the 44th and Jesus Zavala added the third two minutes after the break.
Khaled Mouelhi converted a penalty to pull one back for the Tunisian side in the 75th.