River Plate had its second straight Copa Libertadores title and third in the last four years there for the taking on Saturday in Lima in the final, leading 1-0 in the 88th minute. Then Flamengo pulled off one of the most stunning comebacks in a major final in recent memory to win the tournament, which was a single leg at a neutral site for the first time.
Gabriel Barbosa, the former Santos star known as “Gabigol” who hasn’t been able to cut it in Europe, has now become a club legend after scoring two times in the final minutes to give Flamengo its second tournament title. The former Inter Milan man scored a tap-in in the 89th minute to make it 1-1, and then he beat two River defenders in the 92nd minute to score a wild winner.
Here’s the equalizer:
And the moment he sealed it:
Barbosa went on to get a red card, but he surely won’t care after lifting the major title. For a guy who touched the trophy before the game (which is considered bad luck) and struggled to do much of anything for 95 percent of the game, what a way to step up and do what he’s supposed to — score goals. His well-timed finishes give Flamengo its biggest trophy in nearly 40 years and sends them to the Club World Cup after arguably the greatest day in the club’s modern history.
Flamengo struggled with the pressure of River, especially in the first half, but credit to the defense for allowing just two shots on goal, playing a clean game and not giving them a lot of chances from set pieces. The game didn’t start well for Flamengo, conceding 14 minutes in to Rafael Santos Borre, but it ends with the Mengao atop the summit of South America soccer once again.