In the stretch of three minutes, Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa Almeida became an immortal Flamengo legend.
The 23-year-old forward scored twice in the dying minutes against River Plate in Lima, Peru, earning Flamengo their first Copa Libertadores title in 38 years, and their second ever in 124 years of existence.
Just three minutes prior to the historic goal, Gabigol – as effective as ever before for the Rubro-Negro – leveled the game following an emphatic recovery and counter-attack from the Brazilian side. With a strong, sliding tackle, Uruguayan midfielder Giorgian De Arrascaeta won the ball from an attack-minded River. With newfound possession, the 25-year-old paced forward, connecting a pass before receiving it back inside the box, where he would find the Inter Milan loanee for the leveling goal.
Back-to-back champions River Plate struck first on Saturday after Rafael Santos Borre struck Ignacio Fernandez’s cutback cross after 14 minutes into the first half. Despite seeing less of the ball throughout the 90 minutes, River’s dominance would remain intact for the remainder of the first half and throughout the early stages of the final 45 minutes.
As the clocked ticked and the second half started coming to a close, Marcelo Gallardo and Co. were pinned further and further back into their own half. Flamengo, powered by two, second half substitutions, pushed and eventually broke through the Argentine’s defense.
The Brazilian side are the new champions South America, and Gabigol – with the name living up to the expectations – will never be forgotten.