With six lightning-fast strokes of their black, blue and white brush, Grêmio had painted a counter-attacking masterpiece. And what a time to do it.
Trailing 1-0 with four minutes to go in their Copa Libertadores semi-final first leg at home to Flamengo, the Tricolor Gaúcho needed to draw level to take some hope into the second game at the Maracanã.
For the neutral, it was the goal that the occasion deserved and helped to take the edge off the feeling that the spectacle had been irredeemably tarnished by VAR.
And to make the equaliser taste even sweeter for the fans jumping up and down in the Arena do Grêmio, it was almost exclusively homemade.
Matheus Henrique, Grêmio’s 21-year-old midfield revelation and surprise inclusion in Tite’s most recent Brazil squad, picked the ball up after Everton Ribeiro’s loose pass on the edge of his own penalty area.
To most normal people, it didn’t look like much was on. But Matheus took a touch inside, spotted Pepê in space and played a sweeping ball with his left foot, setting off a devastating chain reaction.
Pepê, another youngster who has burst onto the scene in 2019, turned and did what he does best, accelerating towards the opposition goal.
Flamengo players knew what was coming next. Willian Arão looked around, desperately hoping that he’d see his team-mates flooding back to help defend, but it was five on five and all he could do was hope.
Luan used the last bit of petrol he had in the tank to pull out to the left and got the through ball he wanted from fellow Grêmio academy graduate Pepê. Luan paused, saw Maicon running through the middle and played the ball straight into his stride.
Maicon rarely takes more than two touches and after shifting it out of his feet with his first, he sprayed it wide to Copa América winner Everton ‘Little Onion’ Cebolinha with his second.
Pepê, fresh off the bench, had continued his charge all the way into the six-yard box and flew in to meet his root-vegetable-look-alike team-mate’s cross-cum-shot. The stadium exploded.
🔵⚫⚽💪Pepê was on hand to equalize late for @Gremio_en against @Flamengo! pic.twitter.com/aZTewyzyY7
– CONMEBOL Libertadores (@TheLibertadores) October 3, 2019
Whether they deserved it or not on the balance of the 86 minutes of football that had come beforehand, Grêmio had grabbed onto a lifeline with one of the most devastating counters you are likely to see.
Flamengo, on the other hand, would have felt hard done by, especially after seeing a goal chalked off for perhaps the narrowest offside decision yet to be given by the VAR anywhere in the world.
Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa – he of Inter Milan and Benfica flop fame – has been busy building his reputation back up in Brazil this season, grabbing 32 goals and six assists in his 43 games, including 18 in 18 in Brazil’s top-flight.
Such is the frequency of his goalscoring that Flamengo fans have taken to holding up cardboard signs at the Maracanã with ‘Today there’s going to be a goal from Gabigol’ scrawled across them. …read more
Source:: Daily times