What an emotional Football match we witnessed this Saturday in Lima! Surprising the whole world, the Copa Libertadores Final between Brazilian side Flamengo and Argentines River Plate had a little bit of everything. Commanded by Portuguese manager Jorge Jesus, Flamengo went on to complete a late comeback through two goals from Copa Libertadores’ top scorer, Gabriel Barbosa, or as Brazilians call him, Gabigol. Earlier, Colombian Borre had scored for River.
Those who watch Flamengo games know that this is a very talented side and they always try to keep an offensive and aggressive stance on the pitch. However, Marcelo Gallardo’s River Plate did the homework to study the Brazilians, as the Argentine side knew absolutely everything they had to do in order to nullify the offensive quality of Flamengo. They just went through fire against fire in Lima.
The Argentines weren’t that talented, and in fact, their side was pretty average, to be honest. At least technically. However, their experience in the competition, due to they had beaten their deadliest rivals Boca Juniors in the last season’s Copa Libertadores Final, helped a lot, mainly with the nerves.
As the game began, River dominated the game, and scored on 14 minutes, through Rafael Borre. Nacho Fernandez went on down the left flank and crossed it low to the box. The ball seemed to be an easy-to-clear, but both Gerson and Willian Arao couldn’t understand each other, as the ball went to Borre, who slotted home in the corner past Diego Alves. 0-1 River Plate.
If it was hard for the Brazilians with a goalless scoreline, being 1-0 down didn’t really help Jesus’ side.
River Plate had some other chances to score over the remaining time in the first half, but they couldn’t finish it off, leaving some hopes for Flamengo in the second half.
Maybe a half-time team talk would be beneficial to Flamengo, but it had no instant impact, as the Argentines kept controlling the game and managing the time over the second half.
The gamechanger for Flamengo though was the experienced Diego Ribas, who was subbed on with 66 on the clock.
The former Juventus and Atletico Madrid changed the game and started to set-up some dangerous attacks for the Brazilians.
Flamengo improved a lot, as Bruno Henrique was giving River’s defense a hard time, mainly down the left.
Everton Ribeiro missed a clear chance for the Brazilians in the six-yard box, as it seemed like the title would remain with the holders.
However, on 89 mins, Diego recovered the ball down the middle and passed it to Bruno Henrique, who rounded two River defenders and gave it to Uruguayan Giorgian De Arrascaeta, as he stretched himself to assist unmarked Gabigol, who only had the work to tap in. 1-1.
Flamengo got on fire with Gabigol’s equalizer and went on for some more. Three mins later, on 90+2, Diego, the number 10 of Flamengo got the ball on his defensive half and pulled off a long-ball to Gabigol, who disputed the ball with River’s captain, Pinola, as the ball perfectly to him fire a left-footed effort home past Franco Armani to seal the deal for Flamengo. 2-1.
Gabigol took off his jersey in the celebration, got booked, and was shown the red card a minute later due to obscene acts towards River Plate supporters. He sure got something of Diego Costa in him.
After Gabriel Barbosa’s red card, there was no time for much, as Flamengo conquered South America for the second time in their history. The last one was back in 1981, under the captaincy of the legendary Brazilian player Zico. The funniest part is that back in that year, Liverpool also won the UEFA Champions League, and both clubs faced each other in FIFA Club’s World Cup Final, as the Brazilians won 3-0.
This Flamengo side will have the opportunity of repeating the legendary Zico side and will face the Reds once again in the FIFA tournament. I’m pretty sure the Copa Libertadores went to the best team in the Americas at the moment, and Jorge Jesus can surprise Jurgen Klopp’s men next month in Qatar.