- Injury-time goal earns Copa Libertadores glory for Palmeiras
- Second continental title for O Verdao after their 1999 win
- The Brazilian side will represent South America at the Club World Cup
With extra-time seemingly inevitable, Palmeiras conjured up a stoppage-time goal to beat Santos in Saturday’s Copa Libertadores final at the Maracana and claim the trophy for the second time in their history.
The hero of the competition’s third all-Brazilian final was Breno Lopes. It was his header from a pinpoint Rony cross in the ninth minute of injury time that secured the trophy for O Verdao and with it a ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020™ as South America’s representatives. The matchwinner was only three years old when Palmeiras won their one and only previous Libertadores crown back in 1999.
Three-time champions Santos were left to rue their misfortune at the end of a hard-fought game of few chances. The first shot on target did not come until the 77th minute, as both sides adopted a cautious, safety-first approach in this latest edition of the Clássico da Saudade, as the fixture is known in Brazil and which loosely translates as the ‘Nostalgia Derby’.
Qatar and the Club World Cup now await for Abel Ferreira’s side, who will take on Tigres or Ulsan in the first semi-final, to be played on Sunday 7 February.
The number of European coaches who have won the Copa Libertadores. The latest member of this very select club is Verdao coach Abel Ferreira. Like last season’s winning coach, Jorge Jesus, the 42-year-old Ferreira is Portuguese. The Croatian Mirko Jozic was the first of the three, steering Colo-Colo to success in 1991.
The number of assists Rony provided in this season’s Copa Libertadores, more than any other player. He saved the most important of the lot for Saturday’s final: a perfectly flighted cross for Breno to head home.
What they said
“I can’t describe how it feels. I’m going to treasure this man of the match award. I’m so happy. I’ve worked hard for this opportunity and now I’m going to enjoy it and celebrate with our fans.”
Palmeiras goalscorer Breno
“We’re hurting. We came so close, but that’s football. Nobody thought we’d get this far. There was a huge amount of responsibility on us today. This really hurts, especially for the fans who follow us. We knew it was going to be a really tight game, a very hard game, and then we go and concede right at the end. We have to come back from this now.”
Santos captain Alison
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Breno does the unexpected
Rony and Luiz Adriano went into the final as Palmeiras’ leading goalscorers in this year’s Libertadores with five goals apiece. The duo were surprisingly upstaged, however, by Breno, who scored only his second goal for O Verdao, the first having come just a few days earlier, in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Vasco da Gama.
Maracana a happy hunting ground for Weverton
Winning a final at the Maracana does not happen every day, so to win two in your career is some achievement, as Palmeiras keeper Weverton can vouch for. In fine form throughout the tournament, the Verdao custodian was also between the posts when Brazil won Olympic gold at the stadium at Rio 2016, when he saved the last penalty in the shootout that decided the final.
MVP award some consolation for Marinho
Having starred for Santos throughout the competition, Marinho failed to fire in the final, though he at least had the satisfaction of collecting the player of the tournament award. Before the game, he was spotted touching the trophy, an act that many believe brings bad luck. Gabigol did the same before last season’s final but had better fortune than Marinho, scoring twice late on to secure the title for Flamengo.