Flamengo won its second South American title in dramatic fashion when it produced two last-gasp goals to overcome defending champion River Plate 2-1 in the final on Saturday in Lima.
Three minutes and eight seconds. That was the difference between despair and glory for Flamengo, the new champion of the Copa Libertadores 2019.
Striker Gabriel Barbosa, on loan from Inter Milan, equalized in the 88th minute and three minutes and eight seconds later scored to give the Rio de Janeiro giant their first Libertadores crown in 38 years. A victory parade is expected on Sunday in Rio.
With few chances by both sides, the Copa’s first single-match final settled into a feeling of inevitability for the more than 65,000 fans at Monumental Stadium.
Flamengo was being outplayed by defending champion River, which was closer to doubling its lead than the Brazilian side was to scoring its first.
Several Brazilian players celebrated Flamengo’s title. Neymar, whose sister is Gabriel’s girlfriend, was quick to post videos of himself celebrating his friend’s goals.
River coach Marcelo Gallardo, who could have won his third Copa for the club, left the pitch in tears. He has a contract to the end of 2021, but Argentine media reported he is keen to move to an European team earlier.
Flamengo is Brazil’s most popular club but it hadn’t won the Copa since 1981 when Zico was wearing No. 10. Flamengo’s title also changed the history of Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus, who transformed the team in less than six months.
Fans of the red-and-black team might have an even more memorable weekend. Flamengo will win the Brazilian championship on Sunday with four games in hand if second-placed Palmeiras fails to beat Gremio.
The Rio club will then lift its seventh national title, and first since 2009. Flamengo will also go to Qatar next month for the Club World Cup.
The Brazilian team may get to defend the Copa Libertadores at home next year. CONMEBOL has already picked Rio’s Maracanã as the venue for the 2020 final.
Miami Herald / Shoco Sports News 2019.