Football Features

Gabigol saves the day: Every player rated as Flamengo seal historic Libertadores comeback win over River Plate

By Chris Smith

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Published: 22:19, 23 November 2019

For the first time since 1981, Flamengo are Copa Libertadores champions after completing a remarkable 2-1 comeback win over River Plate.

The Brazilian side had been completely outplayed by Marcelo Gallardo’s defending champions but when the big moments came, Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa stepped up with goals in the 89th and 92nd minutes to cancel out Santos Borre’s opener.

In what was a perfect summary of a ridiculous afternoon in Lima, Gabigol then managed to get himself sent off just before the final whistle.

So, how did the players rate during an absurd Copa Libertadores final?

Flamengo

Diego Alves – 6 – Could do little about the opening goal and was let down by some poor defending from his teammates during the first half. Had a few routine saves to make.

Filipe Luis – 3 – A horrible afternoon for the former Atletico Madrid and Chelsea man, who was outpaced and outfought. It was his poor defending which started the move for the River Plate goal – one of a number of occasions where he was caught out.

Pablo Mari – 6 – Made some important tackles as Flamengo were stretched time and again but had his work cut out dealing with Matias Suarez.

Rodrigo Caio – 6 – Had a tough afternoon trying to track the movement of Suarez, but was dominant in the air.

Rafinha – 5 – Got forward well to try and support the Flamengo attack but left far too much space behind him when he did so. His ageing legs were unable to get back.

Willian Arao – 4 – Statuesque defending for the River Plate goal, getting in a real mix-up with Gerson as Ignacio Fernandez squared the ball. Never got to grips with the likes of Exequiel Palacios and Enzo Perez in the midfield battle.

Gerson – 6 – Was the better of Flamengo’s two holding players, completing six dribbles as he tried to drive his team forward in possession. Along with Arao, was guilty of some static defending for the River Plate goal.

Bruno Henrique – 7 – Was Flamengo’s most threatening player for most of the game and played a superb through ball in the build-up to the equaliser.

Giorgian de Arrascaeta – 7 – Grew into the game during the second half as Flamengo started to ask more questions and provided the assist for the equaliser, beating Pinola to Henrique’s through ball.

Everton Ribeiro – 6 – A disappointing first half but grew into the game later on, showing real flashes of his talent after the break.

Gabriel Barbosa – 8 – Wow. Played horrendously for 89 minutes, then pounced with two clinical goals in three minutes to complete a remarkable turnaround. Rounded off a rollercoaster afternoon by getting himself sent off amid the anarchy of the final moments.

Substitutes:

Diego (for Gerson 66′) – 8 – From the moment he came on, Flamengo looked more assured with the ball and posed a much bigger threat in the final third. A game-changing substitution.

Vitinho (for Willian Arao 86′) – 6 – Replaced Arao late on.

Robert Piris da Motta (for Arrascaeta 93′) – N/A – Brought on to run the clock down.

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River Plate

Franco Armani – 6 – Made some important saves and looked calm and assured when coming to claim the ball. Can’t be blamed for the two goals.

Gonzalo Montiel – 6 – Showed plenty of energy to motor up and down the right-hand side and was solid defensively.

Javier Pinola – 7 – An absolute monster for almost all of the match. Almost. Made an absolute mess of a routine long ball in second-half injury time, allowing Gabriel Barbosa to pounce and seal a remarkable comeback.

Lucas Martinez Quarta – 6 – Formed a brilliant partnership with Pinola, giving an equally small amount of change to Gabriel Barbosa and co. But all that was undone at the end.

Milton Casco – 6 – Wasn’t too expansive with the ball but put in a good defensive shift. Was visibly furious at being substituted.

Enzo Perez – 8 – Calm and collected in front of the River Plate defence. Made seven tackles and two interceptions, while also helping control the game with an 81% pass success rate – the highest of any River Plate starter.

Ignacio Fernandez – 7 – Provided the assist for the opening goal and put in one hell of a shift off the ball, making five tackles. Earned a deserved rest when he was subbed after 69 minutes.

Exequiel Palacios – 6 – For so long, he showed exactly why he is so highly rated here in the pressure cooker of a Copa Libertadores final. Set the tempo of the game with some brilliant passing and combination play with his teammates, and could have had at least one assist on another day having played some exquisite through balls. Pressed the self-destruct button deep into second-half injury time with a cynical swipe on Bruno Henrique, earning him a red card.

Nicolas De La Cruz – 8 – Caused all sorts of problems with and without the ball, using his pace to drive at the Flamengo defence while also leading the press. Made a brilliant clearance off the line from Gabriel Barbosa.

Santos Borre – 8 – Showed brilliant movement and composure to open the scoring inside 14 minutes and looked a constant threat thereafter.

Matias Suarez – 8 – Didn’t score but was an absolute nuisance throughout, making intelligent runs behind the Flamengo defence and providing some excellent link-up play with his teammates.

Substitutes:

Julian Alvarez (for Fernandez 69′) – 4 – Wasteful in possession when he came on.

Lucas Pratto (for Borre 75′) – 4 – Wasted some good positions and was poor with the ball.

Paulo Diaz (for Casco 77′) – 3 – Ineffective at left-back when he came on.

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