Copa Libertadores 2019: Gabriel Barbosa snatches away crown from River Plate's grasp
History was made as Flamengo and River Plate battled it out in the Copa Libertadores final in Lima, Peru. The last moments of the game were the craziest you are likely to see in football for a long time.
The holders, River, were aiming to defend their crown having won the tournament last year. Flamengo was looking for only their second-ever Libertadores title having last won the competition way back in 1981.
The fans packed the Estádio Monumental three hours before kick-off to build up the atmosphere of the momentous occasion. Gabriel Barbosa did the unthinkable by touching the trophy before the start of the game... something which has been seen as a bad omen.
River Plate started off the better side putting Flamengo under pressure with a high press. The Rubro-Negro were unable to handle the pressing done by the River players and looked lost for ideas as they misplaced several passes. This is something which they have not experienced often, a team playing them at there own game. In Brazil no team is yet to press them as River did in the first half and it’s normally Flamengo putting the opposition under pressure trying to suffocate their opposition for space.
Thirteen minutes in and River's brave game plan paid off. Ignacio Fernandez stretched to put in a weak low cross into the box, Willian Arao and Gerson of Flamengo both got in each other's way and failed to clear the ball which allowed Rafael Borre to show good awareness to pounce on to the ball and fire River into the lead.
Flamengo dominated the ball for the remainder of the half but were unable to trouble Franco Armani in the River goal. Exequel Palacios' long-range shot nearly gave his side a two-goal advantage but his effort whistled just passed post.
Into the second
Early in the second half, Flamengo had three glorious opportunities to pull level within the space of five seconds. River had a player down injured but Flamengo refused to put the ball out of play and went on the attack. Bruno Henquire drove into the box beating a sliding challenge from Pinola, he then squared the ball to Giorgian De Arrascaeta who failed to connect with the ball which scrambled its way to Barbosa who saw his shot blocked and deflected the ball into the path of Everton Ribeiro who saw his poor shot saved by Armani.
The River players were furious with the Flamengo players for not kicking the ball out at this stage which led to a confrontation between both parties.
After that, both sides created several attacking chances but neither of them managed to trouble either keeper.
This was until in the 89th minute of the game when some lovely attacking play by Flamengo saw De Arrascaeta put the ball on a plate for Barbosa known as Gabigol to score an easy tap-in which looked like it would send the game to extra time.
Rubro-Negro had other ideas moments later a long ball saw Barbosa battle well and an attempted clearance from captain Pinola saw Gabigol latch on to a half-volley which he fired passed Armani sending Flamengo fans in the stadium and across the world into delirium. It would be the goal which ended their 38-year wait of lifting the trophy.
In the dying embers, both teams had a player sent off, Palacios was sent off for a kick out in frustration and Gabigol received a second yellow card, but in the end up it did nothing to affect the full-time scoreline.
Gabigol, who was already popular with the Flamengo faithful, will now be known as a great alongside Zico who was part of the previous Libertadores cup win 38 years ago.
Another positive for the winners was Henrique picking up best player of the Libertadores.
Flamengo will now look forward to having a crack at the Club World Cup where they could potentially meet Liverpool in the final should both sides get to that stage.
Published 24 Nov 2019, 19:26 IST