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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Mar 8, 2012

Hat-trick hero Neymar inspired by Messi

Neymar netted a hat-trick as Santos saw off Brazilian rivals Internacional 3-1 in Copa Libertadores Group One on Wednesday night.

On the day Argentina forward Lionel Messi scored five goals for Barcelona in their Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen, South America's other big star also produced a brilliant display in the continent's showpiece tournament.

Brazil international Neymar opened the scoring for Santos with an 18th-minute penalty and then evaded three Inter players and beat goalkeeper Muriel for the second time eight minutes after the break.

Leandro Damiao reduced the deficit in the 64th minute following a cross by Oscar, but the Inter fans' hope lasted only 60 seconds before Neymar netted another sublime goal.

"I cannot explain what I did tonight. I need to watch the TV to see what I did on the field. I knew I dribbled past a lot of rivals. That's the only thing I know," Neymar told Globo TV.

"I am a Messi fan. I was told what he did today. I support him to score a lot of nice goals so I can keep copying and imitating him."

The result marked a return to winning ways for Santos following their 2-1 defeat at Bolivian side The Strongest on the opening matchday, while Inter remained on three points.

In Group Seven, Deportivo Quito hammered Argentina's Velez Sarsfield 3-0 in Ecuador.

Matias Alustiza converted a controversial penalty to put the hosts ahead in first-half stoppage time and Deportivo extended their lead after the interval thanks to goals from Fidel Martinez-Tenorio and Luis-Fernando Saritama.

Deportivo's Argentinian coach Carlos Ischia, a former Velez boss, admitted the scoreline flattered his team.

"It was an even game, even though the score says 3-0," he said. "We scored at crucial moments, so that made it easier."

Brazil's Fluminense claimed an important 2-1 win over Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires.

Fred opened the scoring for the visitors with a ninth-minute header and, although Leandro Somoza equalised in the opening moments of the second half, Deco's 54th-minute goal secured victory for Fluminense.

The triumph saw Fluminense take top spot in Group Four with two wins in as many games, while Boca stayed winless in the competition.

Fred told Fox Sports: "We were aware of the difficulties we were going through, but we had the ball, we had the opportunities to score so I think this is a fair result.

"We played great football, technically. Boca are an intense, strong team, but we played as aggressively as them."

Former Barcelona and Chelsea midfielder Deco added: "Nothing is sure, but this win as visitors make things easier for us."

Finally, in Sao Paulo, Danilo and Jorge Henrique were on target in either half as Brazilian giants Corinthians beat Paraguayan side Nacional 2-0 to clinch their first win in Group Six.

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