The final of South America’s equivalent of Europe’s Champions League was played on a roasting hot afternoon in Rio de Janeiro and chances were few and far between.
Just as a lacklustre match looked sure to go to extra-time, however, substitute Lopes timed his jump perfectly at the back post to loop a header into the net.
His goal, moments after Santos coach Cuca was sent off for a fracas on the touchline, provoked wild celebrations from Palmeiras fans who had gathered to watch the game in Sao Paulo, ignoring socially distancing rules.
With the temperature in Rio de Janeiro topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit, neither side was able to make an early impact in the final of the continent’s major tournament.
Although the game opened up slightly towards the end of the second half, it failed to live up to expectations of TV viewers in 191 countries or the 5,000 specially invited guests who watched the match live at the Maracana.
Victory, however, continued a superb season for Palmeiras and their recently appointed 42-year old coach Abel Ferreira.
The club won the Paulista state championship in August and they play Gremio in the Copa do Brasil final in February.
This was Palmeiras’ second Libertadores title — and their first since 1999 — and the third time in four years that a Brazilian team have won South America’s biggest club competition.
The final was originally scheduled to be held in November but the tournament was halted for six months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WCT staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)