Gabigol brace clinches Libertadores for Flamengo
Flamengo earn Club World Cup ticket with dramatic Copa Libertadores win
Gabigol strikes twice in closing minutes to earn 2-1 win over River Plate
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A stunning last-gasp turnaround saw Flamengo triumph 2-1 in Peru to clinch the Copa Libertadores thanks to Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa's brace, breaking River Plate hearts and sending them to the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019.
It was a whirlwind end to the game, with the trophy looking to be heading back to Buenos Aires thanks to Rafael Borre's opener. However, having been distinctly below par throughout, Gabigol sprang to life as River had looked to see out the game. They will now head to Qatar for their first game on 16 December, with their sights set on a world title.
Having been on target three times at the last edition of the Club World Cup, Borre had looked to have earned Los Millonarios a return ticket. A great burst down the right flank from Matias Suarez - capitalising on some sloppy defending - saw his cut back evade all in the Flamengo box before the Colombian slotted into the bottom corner with an unerring certainty.
It was an air that the Brazilians, who were much fancied having gone 25 games unbeaten prior to landing in Lima, lacked throughout much of the first hour in the first ever one-leg final in South America's premier competition. It was a lead River much deserved going into the break, though it took heroic defending from Nicolas de la Cruz and a vital stop from Franco Armani to prevent Jorge Jesus's side levelling after the break.
As The Best FIFA Men's Coach nominee Marcelo Gallardo's side receded, letting counterattacks be their main outlet, the Brazilians grew in confidence but continued to look below their usual high standards. Giorgian De Arrascaeta's acrobatic effort was their best opening against a resolute and organised Argentinian rearguard.
However, Gabigol lived up to his nickname in spectacular style. Neat build-up from Bruno Henrique and De Arrascaeta presented him a far-post tap-in on 89 minutes, before his strong turn and fierce finish sent half the crowd at the Monumental into delirium. There was even time for two red cards, Barbosa receiving one of them, but it will be just a footnote in his Libertadores legacy.