Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras from São Paulo defended its title in the Copa Conmebol Libertadores after a dramatic final against the regatta club Flamengo from Rio de Janeiro on Saturday in the specially modernized Estadio Centenario in Uruguay’s capital Montevideo (site of the first World Cup final in 1930) – and thus for the third time bagged the most coveted trophy on the subcontinent. After the final of the previous edition, it was already the second Libertadores final of this year due to the corona. After the end of regular time it had been a draw, so the match had to be decided in extra time.
45,000 spectators attended the most important football game in the world (after the Olympic final). Brazilian singer Larissa de Macedo Machado, better known as Anitta, started the afternoon’s entertainment. The match itself was an open exchange of blows from the start, both teams had chosen good old supersonic football for tactical reasons – attack for the devil.
However, Palmeiras got off the starting blocks better. After five minutes the Verdão (the dark greens) had taken the lead thanks to a goal from Raphael Veiga, which the team maintained – until Gabigol (Gabriel Barbosa) equalized for Flamengo in the 72nd minute. Meanwhile, Deyverson (Brum Silva Acosta), who had just been substituted for Veiga, became the hero of the evening and scored the decisive goal for the Portuguese coach Abel Ferreira’s team at the beginning of the first half of extra time.
Palmeiras – the new and old monarch of South America – demonstrated order in the back rows, was efficient at covering and closing. With the third Libertadores triumph in club history after 1999 and 2020, the Verdão drew level with FC São Paulo, Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense and FC Santos and is now part of the select club of the most successful Brasuca teams in the competition. With this success, Abel Ferreira, the Paulistas’ coach, is the first European coach to win the Libertadores twice. The last time they defended their title was twenty years ago when the Argentinian club Boca Juniors achieved this feat. Before that – in 1992/93 – São Paulo FC made it.
For the losing team from Flamengo it was the first defeat in the current competition. The top scorer was Gabigol with eleven goals in 13 games. It was also the first game of Flamengo in which, although Gabigol scored, the Mengao still lost. For Palmeiras, Zé Rafael, who was able to recapture twelve balls, proved to be the deciding factor in midfield.