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Palmeiras crowned South American champions

Palmeiras have been crowned Copa Libertadores champions for the first time since 1999, winning a dramatic all-Brazilian final 1-0 over Santos at the iconic Maracana stadium.

The only goal came in the ninth minute of stoppage time, in a game that took 104 minutes to hear the final whistle.

The final of South America’s equivalent to Europe’s Champions League was played on a roasting hot afternoon in Rio de Janeiro and chances were few and far between.

The two sides had good goal opportunities after the break but the spark of a better half soon died off.

Just as the lacklustre match looked sure to go to extra-time, substitute Breno Lopes timed his jump perfectly at the back post to loop a header into the net and emerge as the hero.

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.

This was Palmeiras’ second Libertadores title – and their first since 1999 – and they will represent CONMEBOL at next month’s Club World Cup in Qatar.

It is the third time in four years that a Brazilian team has won South America’s biggest club competition.

The final at the Maracana, which was postponed from November due to COVID-19, was expected to be played behind closed doors but CONMEBOL allowed clubs to invite about 5000 people.

Health and safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus did not appear to be enforced as fans didn’t respect social-distancing rules and some didn’t wear a mask.

Brazil is one of the countries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic with more than 220,000 deaths recorded.

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