Late Goals Give Flamengo Dramatic Copa Libertadores Title

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Gabriel Barbosa of Flamengo and Martinez of River Plate
Flamengo v River Plate, Copa Libertadores Final, Football, Estadio Monumental, Lima, Peru - 23 Nov 2019

LIMA, Peru (AP) Flamengo won the Copa Libertadores in dramatic fashion when it produced two last-gasp goals to beat defending champion River Plate 2-1 in the final on Saturday.

Flamengo's Gabriel Barbosa scored in the 88th minute and in the second minute of injury time to give the Rio de Janeiro giant their first South American crown in 38 years.

''Tomorrow, Rio is ours,'' Gabriel said. ''I want all Flamengo fans on the streets, we will invade Rio.''

River's 14th-minute strike through Rafael Santos Borre was set to make the Argentine side the first back-to-back winner in 18 years.

With few chances by both sides, the Copa's first single-match final had settled into a feeling of inevitability for the more than 65,000 fans at Monumental Stadium.

Flamengo was being outplayed by River, which was closer to doubling its lead than the Brazilian side was to scoring its first.

The equalizer began after River striker Lucas Pratto lost the ball near midfield and allowed Flamengo to counter. Gabriel, on loan from Inter Milan, met a low cross by midfielder Giorgian de Arrascaeta, and all Gabriel had to do was push it into the empty net. Flamengo fans erupted.

There was more disbelief only four minutes later, as a long ball out of the defense landed for Gabriel, who controlled the ball on the edge of the box and shot it past Argentina national team goalkeeper Franco Armani. His ninth goal in 12 matches made him the Copa's leading scorer this year.

More drama followed in the waning seconds. River's Exequiel Palacios was sent off for kicking Bruno Henrique, who was lying on the ground, and Gabriel was also red-carded for sarcastically applauding the referee.

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. His first major title followed two Europa League final defeats with Benfica in 2013 and 2014.

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 is expected to parade through the center of Rio on Sunday, followed by tens of thousands of fans.

Flamengo will also go to Qatar next month for the Club World Cup.