If Mario Vargas Llosa started Conversation in the cathedral Wondering when Peru got screwed, Flamengo from Brazil had to come to Lima to know when his curse ended in the highest competition in South America: the answer was this Saturday, November 23, just 38 years after his so far only Copa Libertadores, when in the last three minutes he reversed a disadvantage against River Plate and took, with a format of feat, the second maximum continental title in its history.
The Rio de Janeiro giant beat River 2-1 and, after almost four decades of waiting, found its international claim at the Monumental de Lima, the magnificent venue for the first unique final in the tournament’s history. Flamengo was too big for that one in 1981, led by Zico, to be their only Copa Libertadores. From December 11 he will try to win the Club World Cup in Qatar encouraged by a good wink as a precedent: in the old format, the Intercontinental in 1981, just beat Liverpool, also current European representative.
For the Brazilian team it is time for new heroes, like Gabriel Gabigol Barbosa, top scorer of the Libertadores with 9 goals and author of the two goals in the 88th and 91st minutes to beat a River that was in advantage almost the entire game and delivered with pain, although also with pride, the throne that last year He had beaten Boca, his greatest rival, in Madrid.
Until 43 minutes into the second half, there was nothing to predict that Flamengo would come out alive from the ambush that Marcelo Gallardo’s River had set for him. Even the extension seemed like big business. Sustained in its soccer quality and economic power, as if it were a European team competing in South America, it was thought that the Brazilian team would show its presence from the beginning. There was a reason why he was the favorite: Jorge Jesús’ CV and charisma on the substitute bench, Gabigol and Bruno Henrique’s goals up front, and the experience in the big leagues of Felipe Luis, Diego Alves and Rafinha in defense seemed to confirm a combo enough that would take Flamengo to stomp on the Monumental de Lima.
However, the team that swept Gremio 5-0 in the Cup semifinals and is about to become champion of Brasileirao – this Sunday, if the results of their pursuers help him, they can win the title of their country – no there was news until two minutes before the end. River, a team used to playing decisive games, took the lead with a goal from the Colombian Rafael Santos Borré, a former Villarreal forward, 14 minutes into the first half and he controlled the rest of the game without major problems.
If Enzo Pérez and his 34 years and Exequel Palacios and his 21 had been the owners of the Peruvian afternoon, Gabigol -a 23-year-old talent who passed without noise for Inter Milan and Benfica between 2016 and 2018- entered Olympus Flamengo, the team with the largest number of genuine fans in the world: according to surveys, 40 million of the almost 200 million Brazilians are from Mengao, as it thundered in Lima this Saturday.
In three minutes, Flamengo finished with 38 years of being screwed in the Libertadores.