Players of Palmeiras celebrate with the trophy on the podium after winning the Copa Libertadores football tournament by defeating Santos 1-0 in the all-Brazilian final match at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on January 30, 2021
Breno Lopes scored a dramatic late winner nine minutes into stoppage time to snatch a 1-0 win over Santos and give Palmeiras their first Copa Libertadores triumph for 21 years.
A largely insipid encounter looked set for extra time with the two sides struggling to create much in the way of goalscoring opportunities with both goalkeepers bystanders for the majority of the contest.
The drama came in stoppage time, though, when Santos head coach Cuca was first sent off for his involvement in a touchline scuffle with a Palmeiras player.
Coach Cuca of Santos gestures during the final of Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2020 between Palmeiras and Santos at Maracanã Stadium on January 30, 2021 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Image credit: Getty Images
This was followed by what proved to be the match winner, with Breno rising highest at the back post to get on the end of a deep delivery from Rony and provide the only real moment of quality with a header back across goal and into the far corner.
TALKING POINT - Abel Ferreira’s pragmatism paid off for Palmeiras in the end
This wasn’t the demonstration of exhilarating attacking quality some Palmerias fans might have hoped for, but Abel Ferreira recognised the challenge his side faced here and adapted his approach accordingly. This was a pragmatic performance from Palmeiras. They didn’t press high in the energy-sapping heat like Santos did in the first half. They stayed compact and well-organised and ultimately took their opportunity when it came their way deep into stoppage time. Keep in mind Abel only took charge of the club three months ago!
Palmeiras' Portuguese coach Abel Ferreira gestures during the all-Brazilian Copa Libertadores final football match against Santos at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on January 30, 2021
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH - Rony (Palmeiras)
In truth, there wasn’t a lot of attacking quality on show in this match. At least, the decision-making from both sets of attackers was poor. Rony wasn’t exempt from this, but the 25-year-old played a key role in the one piece of genuine quality that ultimately decided the match and saw Palmeiras crowned South American champions. It was Rony’s cross that produced Breno’s winner. The 25-year-old was unpolished in his performance, but always looked to be the one to make something happen for Palmeiras.
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 30: Rony of Palmeiras celebrates after winning the final of Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2020 between Palmeiras and Santos at Maracanã Stadium on January 30, 2021 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Santos - John 6, Para 6, Verissimo 6, Peres 5, Jonatan 7, Alison 5, Pituca 6, Sandry 5, Marinho 7, Jorge 6, Soteldo 6. Subs - Madson 4, Braga 3.
90+7’ Cuca sent off! The Santos head coach has been shown a red card and will have to watch the match from the stands. That seems harsh. It was the player who rugby tackled him! Santos won’t have Cuca to guide them.
90+9’ GOAL! Palmeiras 1-0 Santos: That has to be a winner! A late, late winner deep in stoppage time! Palmeiras might just have won the Copa Libertadores! Breno wins the header at the back post from a Rony cross and guides his effort into the oppositte corner of the net!
Palmeiras won the Copa Libertadores for the second time in their history and for the first time since 1999.
This is the second time in successive years that a Brazilian club has won the Copa Libertadores with a Portuguese coach (after Jorge Jesus as Flamengo boss).