In the all-Brazilian final at Montevideo’s Estadio Centenario last Saturday, reigning champions Palmeiras clinched a back-to-back Copa Libertadores after beating 2019 champions Flamengo 2-1 on extra time.
Palmeiras struck six minutes in through Raphael Veiga: a well-worked play, with defender Gustavo Gómez finding Mayke tearing down the right flank, Raphael Veiga entering the box to sidefoot the cross home.
Palmeiras exercised good control of the game in the first half, fully neutralising Flamengo’s attack, but the opponent grew in the second half and an equaliser arrived in the 72nd minute when Gabriel Barbosa, assisted by de Arrascaeta, caught goalkeeper Weverton short by firing a low shot inside his near post.
The game went into extra time and both sides seemed cautions. In the fifth minute, Pereira lost concentration and Palmeiras forward Deyverson nipped in from behind to steal the ball and once again put the Big Green ahead in the score. A bit of pressure followed, but the reigning champions soaked it up perfectly to celebrate jubilantly with fans at the final whistle.
This is the third time Palmeiras bag South America’s equivalent of the Champions League, following victories in 1999 and 2020. The result is a personal triumph for 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.
Both Atlético Mineiro (semifinals) and Flamengo were considered favourites against Palmeiras. Abel Ferreira early on decided on a plan, tweaked it and stuck to it, even when that meant facing the rage of supporters not accepting that Palmeiras lost a few games – including a derby against arch-enemy SPFC – weeks before the Libertadores final. Abel shut them all up good, real good. Repositioning Scarpa and Gómez, betting his chips on Mayke, Deyverson… Abel knows his men. He forms a plan, communicates it internally, gets everyone onboard. And good things happen, not by chance. Abel Ferreira and his team works harder than most, studies harder than most. And have been awarded accordingly.
This Monday morning, in Zurich, Switzerland, FIFA conducted the draw of the matches of the Club World Cup, scheduled for the period February 3rd to 12th 2022, in the United Arab Emirates. Palmeiras will face Al Ahly, from Egypt, or Monterrey, from Mexico, in the semi-finals. Above, the tournament bracket.
What marvellous times to be alive, palmeirenses! Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!