RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Celebrations of Flamengo’s victory in South America’s top soccer club competition came to an abrupt end in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, when clashes erupted between a group of supporters and police.
Tens of thousands of ecstatic soccer fans wearing their team’s black-and-red jerseys poured into the streets of the city’s historic center in the morning to welcome Flamengo players.
For hours, the flood of supporters, including many families and children, celebrated peacefully, waving flags and setting off fireworks as the Copa Libertadores winners rode through the streets in an open-topped bus.
But around 4.30 p.m. local time, in the final stretch of the festivities, TV images showed thick white smoke coming out of the parade, which quickly dispersed the nearby crowd.
Clashes followed, with a group of supporters throwing rocks, beer bottles and other objects at police. The disturbances later eased.
The team’s victory Saturday over Argentine side River Plate has lifted the spirits of Brazilians after a period of economic stagnation and political infighting.
That’s especially true in Rio, home of the country’s largest club. It hadn’t won the Copa in 38 years, while its Brazilian rivals had won five of the previous 10 competitions.
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.
Boca Juniors scored a late goal to beat bitter rivals River Plate 1-0 at La Bombonera on Tuesday, but River held on to reach the final of the Copa Libertadores with a 2-1 aggregate win.
Jan Hurtado scored the second-leg winner for Boca in the 80th minute to send the home fans wild, but it wasn’t enough as River somehow held on to reach their second-straight Copa Libertadores final.
Amid fireworks, copious amounts of ticker tape and an incredible atmosphere generated by Boca’s supporters at their home in Buenos Aires, to hold on for the aggregate victory was an amazing display of defensive strength from River Plate.
Boca battered River for large swathes of this game, with the home side squandering plenty of chances. Click play on the video below to watch the highlights as River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani was a busy man and came up with the goods.
Of course, the Copa Libertadores final between Boca and River last season was abandoned and then moved to Madrid, Spain over fan unrest as Boca Juniors bus was attacked.
River won the final 3-1 last season and they will face either Flamengo or Gremio in the final in Santiago, Chile on Nov. 23. This season will see the change in format to a one-off final to decide the Champions of CONMEBOL.
The Copa Libertadores winners will represent South America in the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar in December.
SAO PAULO (AP) Gremio and Flamengo drew 1-1 on Wednesday night in the Brazilian semifinal tie of the Copa Libertadores.
Striker Bruno Henrique opened the scoring for Flamengo with a header in the 69th minute. Substitute Pepe tied it in the 88th from close range to the relief of home fans at a crowded Arena do Gremio in Porto Alegre. Flamengo had two goals disallowed by video review in the first half.
The second leg will be played Oct. 23 at the Maracana stadium in Rio.
Gremio, the 2017 champion, is seeking its fourth Copa Libertadores trophy, and Flamengo its second.
The winner of the Brazilian semifinal will face an Argentinian rival in the Nov. 23 decider in Santiago. On Tuesday, defending champions River Plate beat Boca Juniors 2-0 at home in the first leg in Buenos Aires.
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The Superclasico serving as Copa Libertadores semifinal got off to a pro-River Plate start, as Los Millonarios beat Boca Juniors 2-0 in the semifinal first leg on Tuesday.
Rafael Santos Borre converted a 7th minute penalty, and Ignacio “Nacho” Fernandez scored in the 70th minute as River takes a two-goal advantage back across Buenos Aires.
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Fernandez’s goal was the 29-year-old’s first in nine career matches against Boca (He had posted two assists). He had been linked with a move to LA Galaxy earlier this year.
The second leg is Oct. 22 at Boca. The other semifinal kicks off Wednesday, with Gremio hosts Flamengo in an all-Brazil affair.