Palmeiras win Copa Libertadores with Deyverson extra-time goal

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Palmeiras won the Copa Libertadores for the second year in a row when an extra-time goal from Deyverson gave it a 2-1 win over Flamengo in an absorbing all-Brazilian final on Saturday.

It is the third time the Sao Paulo club has won South America’s equivalent of Europe’s Champions League following victories in 1999 and 2020.

Raphael Veiga put Palmeiras ahead after five minutes when he side-footed home a cross from the right but Gabriel Barbosa equalised for Flamengo with 18 minutes remaining.

However, Deyverson took advantage of slack defending by Manchester United loanee Andreas Pereira to steal the ball 30 metres from goal and then coolly beat goalkeeper Diego Alves five minutes into extra time.

The result is a personal triumph for Palmeiras’ Portuguese coach Abel Ferreira, who has become the first European to win the Libertadores twice.

It is also the first time a team has successfully defended the Libertadores title since Boca Juniors in 2001.

“Everyone was saying that Palmeiras were dead going into this game, but we are a team, a family,” Deyverson said.

“People who were writing us off before the game, they need to respect us a bit more. We deserve congratulations.”

A former right back who played for Sporting Lisbon in his homeland, Fereira’s teams play a counter-attacking style that is not always loved by footballing purists.

But his methods have proven highly successful and at a club that has a generous sponsor he has helped build a formidable squad that along with Flamengo and Atletico Mineiro seem set to dominate Brazilian football for the foreseeable future.

Ferreira is one of a wave of Portuguese coaches coveted by Brazilian clubs keen to replicate the success of Jorge Jesus, the Benfica manager who led Flamengo to the Libertadores and Brazilian first division in 2019.

Libertadores champion in 2019, Flamengo was unbeaten in this year’s competition after winning nine and drawing three of its 13 games but it went behind to one of the counter attacks that are a hallmark of Palmeiras’ game.

Mayke tore down the right flank and, with the Flamengo defence all at sea, Raphael Veiga sidefooted home his cross.

The Rio side slowly came back into the game and controlled possession for the rest of the first half, even though Palmeiras had more chances.

The second period was a different story as Flamengo pushed forward in search of an equaliser.

David Luiz and Giorgian de Arrascaeta came close but it was Barbosa, having already missed two good opportunities, who scored a goal out of nothing with 72 minutes gone.

The striker nicknamed Gabigol worked a nice one-two with de Arrascaeta and then caught goalkeeper Weverton short by firing a low shot inside his near post.

Both sides were cagey and tentative in extra time and the game was decided when Pereira lost concentration and Deyverson nipped in from behind to steal the ball and net the winner.

Luiz defends team mate after decisive error

Luiz defended his Flamengo team mate Andreas Pereira after the loanee from Manchester United made a decisive mistake.

Pereira was caught in possession 30 meters from goal by Deyverson, who drove on to score the winning goal five minutes into extra time at the Centenario stadium in Montevideo.

But Luiz, who arrived at Flamengo in September after years spent at Benfica, Chelsea, Paris St Germain and Arsenal, said the 25-year-old midfielder was not the reason that Flamengo failed to win their second Libertadores – South America’s equivalent of the Champions League – in three years.

“That’s football,” Luiz said. “He was having a great game, playing fantastic, and then in one move it all comes crashing down. The only thing I said to him was that no matter how much people will analyse that moment, we didn’t lose the game because of that.”

“Our vision has to be deeper and broader than that analysis, especially with a great player like Andreas. I’m very sad because he is a great friend, a great player and sad because he deserves more, sad because we deserved more.”

Luiz’s explanation was understandable and came after goalkeeper Diego Alves also defended Pereira, saying “Victory is ours (as a team) and defeat is too.”

Luiz, though, was not alone in believing Flamengo were unlucky in a game where they spent more time than their opponents going forward.

Flamengo had around two-thirds of possession and the same with attempts on goal but fell behind to a Raphael Veiga strike after five minutes and although they were the better side in the second half and scored through Gabriel Barbosa after 72 minutes, they lost to Deyverson’s opportunist goal early in extra time.

“We need to have the humility to recognise that Palmeiras came with a strategy of playing on the counter attack, to take advantage of our errors, and that is what happened,” said the defender. “They’re not here for the second year in a row for nothing.”

Reuters

Photo Palmeiras’ players celebrate with the fans victory against Flamengo and winning the Copa Libertadores after the end of the final at the Centenario Stadium in Montevideo, Uruguay, 27 November 2021. EPA-EFE/Raul Martinez

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