Fluminense won its first Copa Libertadores title Saturday, topping Boca Juniors 2-1 after extra time.
The tournament is known for the passion shown by the coaches, fans and players, as well as excitement on and off the pitch. The 2023 final was no different with two red cards and a winning goal coming in extra time, and the game’s winning goal scorer sent off for excessively celebrating.
John Kennedy was the hero for Fluminense, firing home the eventual winner nine minutes into extra time. It was a lovely set up and finish by the 21-year-old forward, which stood up after a VAR review for offside.
After the goal, Kennedy and the Fluminense fans in attendance at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, celebrated together after he ran to the far side of the field and went into the crowd — and they did not want to let go of the moment or the forward.
Kennedy, who was subbed on in the 80th minute for Ganso, was already on a yellow card after an 89th-minute foul. The celebration earned him a second caution and put Fluminense down to 10 men.
Boca’s man advantage wouldn’t last long as they sought the game-tying goal in extra time. Eleven minutes after Kennedy was sent off, Frank Fabra swatted at a Fluminense player during a post-whistle scrum and was given a straight red card following a VAR review.
Fluminense joins Flamengo (2019, 2022) and Palmeiras (2020, 2021) as Copa Libertadores champions from Brazil after the tournament changed to a single-match final in 2019.
This was the first time Fluminense reached the Copa Libertadores final since losing the 2008 final. Its coach, Fernando Diniz, is also in charge of the Brazilian men’s national team until next summer when it’s expected that Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti will take the reins heading into the 2026 World Cup.