After entering the season as one of the most hyped players in the world, Neymar has proven that he is worth every penny for Barcelona.
The Spanish club entered Wednesday's Champions League match against Celtic in need of a win or draw to secure first place in Group H.
Even without some of the team's best attackers—including Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas—Neymar led an offensive explosion to secure a spot in the tournament's Round of 16.
After Gerard Pique scored the club's opening goal in the seventh minute, Neymar contributed with an assist to Pedro to double the lead in the 39th minute. However, the Brazilian star was just getting started on his impressive day.
He scored his first Champions League goal in the 44th minute thanks to a great pass in front of the box by Martin Montoya. Neymar was simply able to finish with a tap in into an empty net:
In the second half, the 21-year-old added to his total and his highlight reel with impressive close-range passing between himself and Xavi in the 48th minute.
By the time the talented player finished the run, the club's Twitter account could hardly contain itself:
GGGGGOOOOAAAAALLL! Neymar! What a goal from the Brazilian! #FCBLive— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 11, 2013
Of course, Neymar was still not done. With two goals already, he completed his hat-trick with an amazing individual effort against an overmatched Celtic defense inside the box:
This was his third goal in a span of only 13 minutes of playing time, which is one of the best performances ever in the history of this prestigious tournament:
Neymar's hat-trick (13 minutes) is the fourth fastest in Champions League history. (via @2010MisterChip)— Espcore (@espcore) December 11, 2013
Additionally, it secured his place in history for both his club and country, according to these statistics via OptaJoe and ESPN's Paul Carr:
10 - Neymar's hat-trick was the tenth scored by a Brazilian in Champions League history; the most of all nations. Samba.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 11, 2013
Neymar is the 5th Barcelona player with a Champions League hat trick. Messi (4), Eto'o, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) December 11, 2013
While the 21-year-old player has already excelled in La Liga with four goals and eight assists in 13 appearances, this performance was arguably his best in a Barca kit. He came through with an outstanding effort against a quality opponent when his club needed it and it happened on the large international stage of the Champions League.
At this point, there is no denying that Neymar has an extremely bright future ahead of him.
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