Fans go wild as River Plate reach the Copa Libertadores final where they could face deadly rivals Boca Juniors… as the referee needs riot police protection following VAR controversy
- River Plate reached the Copa Libertadores final after reigning shocking champions Gremio in Brazil
- They could face their deadly rivals Boca Juniors in the showpiece final for the first time in history
- There were huge celebrations among the River fans in Porto Alegre after the game following a 2-1 win
- Referee Andres Cunha meanwhile had to be protected by riot police from the furious Gremio players
- River’s goals came following a possible handball for the opener and then a late VAR-awarded penalty
River Plate reached the final of the Copa Libertadores on Tuesday after shocking defending champions Gremio, setting up a possible championship match against deadly rivals Boca Juniors for the first time in history.
River beat the Brazilians 2-1 in Porto Alegre to advance on the away goals rule to their first continental final since 2015, having lost 1-0 at home in the first leg.
Midfielder Pity Martinez scored the decisive goal in stoppage time after the referee awarded River a penalty following a video review that confirmed a handball by defender Matheus Bressan.
River Plate have reached the 2018 Copa Libertadores final after reigning shocking champions Gremio in Brazil
River could potentially face their deadly Argentine rivals Boca Juniors in the showpiece final for the first time in history
There were huge celebrations among the River fans in Porto Alegre after the game following a 2-1 win
Referee Andres Cunha meanwhile had to be protected by riot police from the furious Gremio players
River’s goals came in the final 10 minutes following a possible handball for the opener and then a late VAR-awarded penalty
There were huge celebrations among the River Plate fans after the game, with supporters seen stripping off their shirts as others waved red and white flags.
Referee Andres Cunha meanwhile had to be protected by riot police from the irate Gremio players after the late penalty call. Cunha, in consultation with VAR, awarded a penalty against Gremio’s Bressan for handball after 86 minutes.
Bressan was sent off for a second yellow card but refused to go quietly, pulling at Cunha’s shirt and even appearing to headbutt him. The penalty was eventually taken in the fifth of 14 minutes of added time.
Cunha sent off Gremio midfielder Bressan, who reacted by crying, pulling the official’s shirt and attempting a headbutt
There was earlier controversy as Rafael Borre appeared to handle before scoring River’s first, but VAR allowed the goal
Gonzalo Martinez then scored the winner from the penalty spot in the fifth of 14 added minutes, also awarded by VAR
Leonardo had opened the scoring for Gremio in the 36th minute, and they missed a clear chance with Everton squandering an opportunity one-on-one with goalkeeper Franco Armani to make it 2-0 for the hosts on 66 minutes.
River equalised in the 81st minute with a header by Colombian striker Rafael Borre, after a cross by Martinez, who later scored the winner.
After the match Gremio players said the first goal should have been disallowed because of a Borre handball in the build-up to his strike.
Before the match, the Gremio team bus was welcomed by the home fans in extraordinary scenes of fire and smoke
Gremio, who were aiming to retain the continental title, were favourites after winning the first leg 1-0 in Argentina
The passionate Gremio fans all turned up in the blue and black team colours – but were eventually left disappointed
Gremio coach Renato Portaluppi said his team was ‘robbed’ by the VAR following the handball ahead of the equaliser – and claimed the official in charge must have been blind.
‘I would rather lose 5-0 than lose it like this. I can’t blame the referee on the pitch, but I can blame the VAR referee,’ Portaluppi said. ‘Who was taking care of VAR? Was it Stevie Wonder? Everyone else saw it.’
River’s final opponent in their quest for a fourth Copa Libertadores title will be known on Wednesday. Boca Juniors are defending a 2-0 first-leg victory against Brazil’s Palmeiras, coached by World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari.
If Boca win, the arch-rivals meet in the final for the first time. Never before have two Argentinian clubs played each other in the Copa Libertadores final.
Thousands of blue and white streamers were thrown pre-match at the Arena do Gremio, while fans held a huge banner
Thousands were packed into the stadium in Brazil, however it was the Argentinians who were celebrating by the final whistle
Gremio goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe looks despondent in the rain following the final whistle and his team’s elimination
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