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Flamengo Copa victory celebration in Rio ends in clashes

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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.

‘Gabigol’ scores two goals at the death to lift Flamengo over River in Copa Libertadores final

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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.

Gremio, Flamengo draw in 1st leg of Copa Libertadores semi

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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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Report: Balotelli in talks to sign in Brazil

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Mario Balotelli may have a chance to revive his career across the Atlantic Ocean.

According to Brazilian publication Globo Esporte, Brazilian giant Flamengo is in talks to sign Balotelli. Balotelli is currently a free agent after spending the last five months with Marseille.

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Balotelli scored eight goals in 15 Ligue 1 games last season but wasn’t in Andre Villas-Boas’ plans. The move to a Marseille came after two and a half years with Nice, where it seemed Balotelli had gotten back on his feet.

The former Italian international, known for his outrageous skill as well as his outrageous behavior, struggled mightily between spells at AC Milan and Liverpool.

According to Globo Esporte, Flamengo’s new signing Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa recommended Balotelli from their time together at Milan.

Flamengo plays first match since academy fire that killed 10

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian soccer club Flamengo played its first match since the fire that killed 10 of its academy players at its training ground Feb. 8, losing 1-0 to rival Fluminense on Thursday night.

Nearly 30,000 fans, many with white balloons, banners and flags, attended the state championship match.

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The game was initially scheduled for Saturday, only hours after the deadly incident.

Flamengo supporters sang a song to honor the dead at 10 minutes of play.

Luciano scored for Fluminense.

Survivor Cauan Emanuel, who was released from hospital this week, was filmed crying in the tribunes of the Maracana, sided by family members and Flamengo fans.

The victims were between 14 and 16 years old. Police are still investigating what caused the fire.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports