SPORTS NEWS – Fresh news as Brazilian side Chapecoense qualified for the Copa Liberadores with a last-gasp winner on Sunday, a year after a plane crash killed 19 of their players.
A Tulio de Melo goal with the last kick of the game saw Chapecoense beat Coritiba 2-1 to send them through to the qualifying rounds of next year’s tournament – South America’s equivalent of the Champions League.
The victory means they will join seventh-placed Vasco da Gama in the qualifiers.
Last Wednesday marked a year since the plane carrying the Chapecoense team, coaching staff and directors crashed on its descent into Medellin in Colombia.
Seventy-one of the 77 passengers on board died, while only three of the players, Neto, midfielder Alan Ruschel and goalkeeper Jakson Follman survived.
Ruschel, who has resumed his career at the club but did not play on Sunday, described Chapecoense’s qualification as “amazing”.
The Arena Conda stadium where Sunday night’s heroics took place, hosted a vigil and memorial ceremony on Wednesday for the victims of the crash.
Corinthians had already won the title before Sunday, with games to spare, and were trailed by Palmeiras, Santos, Gremio, Cruzeiro and Flamengo, all of whom qualified for the Libertadores.
Flamengo are already in the final of the Copa Sudamericana, the continent’s second most important club competition, and if they win that they will qualify automatically for next year and create one extra space for a Brazilian team, ninth-placed Atletico Mineiro.
Four teams are relegated to Serie B, with Avai, whose failure to get more than a 1-1 draw at Santos was fatal, joining Coritiba, Ponte Preta and Atletico Goianiense.
They will be replaced in the top tier by America-MG, Internacional, Ceara and Parana.