Fluminese and Boca Juniors were both reduced to 10 men as tempers and emotions flared in a memorable Copa Libertadores final on Saturday night.
John Kennedy, a 21-year-old striker with many ups and downs in his short career, scored the winning goal in extra-time to give Brazil’s Fluminense its maiden title against Argentine side Boca.
Yet just moments after netting the second in their 2-1 victory at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium, which saw his powerful volley from the edge of the box fly past the left corner of goalkeeper Sergio Romero, Kennedy was sent off for a second yellow card after jumping into the crowd to celebrate his eventual winner.
The 21-year-old jumped over the barrier at the side of the field and sprinted into the crowd to embrace Fluminese supporters, only to receive his marching orders upon returning to the game.
Soon after, Boca were also reduced to 10 men when left back Frank Fabra saw red for slapping an opponent in the closing stages of extra-time.
Fluminese and Boca Juniors were both reduced to 10 men in a memorable Copa Libertadores final, with striker John Kennedy shown a second yellow for jumping into the crowd (pictured)
Left back Frank Fabra saw red for slapping an opponent in the closing stages of extra-time
Boca were playing for their seventh title in the tournament, but its tens of thousands of fans in Rio saw their hopes momentarily tank after their countryman Germán Cano opened the scoring for Fluminese in the 36th minute after a low cross from Keno.
The 35-year-old Cano netted 81 goals for the Rio-based club in 125 matches in the past two years.
Boca lost some momentum, but managed to equalize in the 72nd minute with a powerful shot by Luis Advincula from the edge of the box, a goal allowed Argentinian fans once more to dream of the title, counting on Romero’s great penalty saving skills.
Eight minutes later, Kennedy stepped in. His goal in extra time came as Fluminense pushed forward, knowing a penalty shootout could make the final go Boca’s way.
The striker, who first appeared at the Rio club in 2021, struggled to get a starting position last year. He was loaned to a small club that was relegated in the Sao Paulo state league, and returned to Fluminense only months ago.
Saturday’s wild final came on the back of violent scenes which played out in the streets of Rio de Janeiro on the eve of the game.
Fluminense ultras clashed with police in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the Libertadores showdown with Boca, with cops forced to wear full riot gear as they were attacked by the ultras who were not sighted in the footage.