It took 48 years of waiting, but Gloria Eterna returned to Santos and it was worth the wait. Following on from their tradition of champions started by the great teams of the legendary Pelé and company, Santos returned to Libertadores glory in 2011, led by a pair of South American stars in Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso.
Led by manager Muricy Ramalho, Santos celebrated their third continental title at the Pacaembu, defeating Peñarol 2-1 in a rematch of the 1962 Libertadores Final, also won by Santos, at that point led by Pelé, Coutinho and other icons.
Santos reached the 2011 Libertadores by virtue of their 2010 Copa do Brasil title. They advanced out of Group E which also contained Cerro Porteño, Colo-Colo and Deportivo Táchira, recording 11 points from their 6 group stage matches.
Club América proved a tough nut to crack in the Round of 16, but a resolute defensive performance in the return leg saw Santos through on the back of a 1-0 win at home in the first leg. In the quarterfinals, Santos squeaked by Once Caldas after a 1-0 away win in the first leg and a second leg that finished level 1-1.
The same Cerro Porteño side that featured alongside Santos in the group stage were their opponents in the semifinals. A 1-0 first leg win at the Pacaembu with a goal from captain Edu Dracena set things up for a dramatic 3-3 draw in the second leg in Asunción. Santos led 3-1 after 60 minutes had been played, but a late rally by Cerro Porteño nearly dragged the Paraguayans over the line and into the final.
The first leg of the Final against Uruguayan side Peñarol was a tensely played 0-0 draw in Montevideo. In the second leg, played in front of a sold-out crowd at the Pacaembu in São Paulo, Neymar scored quickly after halftime with Danilo doubling Santos' lead after 68 minutes played. An own goal from Durval in the 79th minute gave Peñarol something to push for in the dying moments, but Santos saw out the 2-1 win to lift the 2011 Libertadores title, their thrid all-time, snapping a drought of 48 years, the longest time between titles for any Libertadores side in history.