Santos and Corinthians both moved into the semi-finals of the Campeonato Paulista on Saturday, though they had to work hard to claim wins.
Santos – an 18-time winner of the tournament – had a 21st-minute strike from teenage prodigy Neymar to thank for their 1-0 home triumph over plucky Ponte Preta.
Having hit 17 goals in the 2010 Serie A season, Neymar showed why his is coveted by some of the world’s biggest clubs with his third goal of the competition for Muricy Ramalho’s side.
The precocious 19-year-old had gone close to opening the scoring on 13 minutes with an powerful right-foot effort.
But the Brazil international was celebrating soon after when he collected the ball on the edge of the area, checked onto his left foot and fired an unstoppable drive high into the net.
Santos have been joined in the last four by rivals Corinthians, after the Sao Paulo club edged Oeste 2-1 at the Estadio do Pacaembu.
Liedson continued to endear himself to his new fans since his January move from Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon with a ninth-minute opener, but the striker’s goal was cancelled out when Fabio Santos struck for Oeste in the shadows of half-time.
But the introduction of Willian again turned the game in Corinthians’ favour, with the forward finding the back of the net on 64 minutes in what was to prove the game’s decisive goal.
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