What a match this Flamengo side played against Gremio at the mythic Maracana Stadium this Wednesday night in Rio de Janeiro. What a show they put in in front of more than 80.000 Flamengo supporters. After a frustrating 1-1 first-leg draw at Gremio’s Arena, where Flamengo had three goals ruled out by the VAR, this time, there was no chance.
Led by the exceptional Jorge Jesus, Flamengo massacred Gremio and beat them 5-0 in a Copa Libertadores semifinal. There were a lot of jokes and comparisons with the famous and infamous at the same time 7-1 German win on Brazilian soil in the 2014 World Cup Semifinal. It felt the same way for Gremio supporters to be fair.
Bruno Henrique, Gabriel Barbosa, the so-called Gabigol, with two, and the defenders Rodrigo Caio and Spaniard Pablo Mari scored Flamengo goals in an unforgettable night.
The fact is that this Flamengo side is making, writing and creating history. This was the first time since 1981 Flamengo didn’t make it to the Copa Libertadores Final. At that time, Flamengo was led by the marvelous and legendary Zico, who carried the Cariocas to the Club’s World Cup against Kenny Dalglish – today Sir. King Kenny – ‘s Liverpool, and destroyed the Reds as well, by 3-0 in Japan.
Jorge Jesus crossed the seas to come to Brazil from Europe and is running the Brazilian league, as Flamengo leads with over 10 points clear on top of the table. 8 out of 11 players of the starters have European experience, as Diego Alves, the goalkeeper played in Valencia, Pablo Mari came from Spain, Rafinha, Filipe Luis, Roma’s Gerson, Wolfsburg’s Bruno Henrique, Atletico Madrid’s Diego, and Internazionale’s Gabigol.
But talking about the game itself, it was a historic match. An Absurd atmosphere, and very hostile for Gremio players, who seemed lost on the pitch.
Flamengo opened the scoring through Bruno Henrique, on 41 mins. On a lethal counterattack, Gerson triggered Bruno, who passed it to Gabigol, who fired, but Paulo Victor palmed it away into Bruno’s path, as he only had to tap into the empty nets. 1-0 Flamengo.
After the break, Jorge Jesus was up to command the show and unleashed Flamengo’s beasts. On 46 mins, after a Giorgian De Arrascaeta’s corner, Gabigol rocketed home past Paulo Victor to make it 2-0.
On 52, Bruno Henrique was picked out inside the area and was brought down by Pedro Geromel, as the referee awarded Flamengo the pen. Gabigol stepped up and scored his second. 3-0 Flamengo.
On 66, Arrascaeta assisted Mari from a corner, as the Spaniard arouse higher than everyone to nod home.
The 5th came in moments later, as Everton Ribeiro’s set-piece cross found Rodrigo Caio, who unmarked, headed in. 5-0.
An absolute demolishing from Flamengo, as Jorge Jesus showed his ambitions and even with 5-0 up, was demanding his players not to stop attacking until the final whistle.
By the end of the match, the Portuguese manager still introduced Diego into the team, as he recently came back from a long time off the pitch due to a serious injury, and Flamengo’s number 10 and captain was applauded by Flamengo supporters in Maracana. He almost scored a goal, as it would’ve been the icing on the cake, but it ended up 5-0.
After making history, Flamengo will face the Argentine side River Plate in the Copa Libertadores final. It’s going to take place in Chile’s capital, Santiago, on November 23.
River has experience in winning this Competition, but honestly, I think this Flamengo side is so good that it could even beat Liverpool – once again – in the FIFA Club’s World Cup in December. However, it’s River Plate, so you never really know. It can be all arranged, so we don’t know. But surely, for the first time in a long period, the two best sides in South America will decide the Copa Libertadores. Gallardo’s River Plate versus Jesus’ Flamengo.