Chapecoense fans paid tribute to the survivors of November’s tragic plane crash before Tuesday’s emotional Recopa Sudamericana win over Atlético Nacional.
The Brazilian side was hit by tragedy in November when the plane carrying their squad to Colombia to play Atlético in the Copa Sudamerica final went down, killing all but six of the 77 passengers on board. Nineteen Chapecoense players died in the disaster.
The Colombians won the Copa Libertadores but asked for the Copa Sudamerica to be awarded to Chapecoense. The Recopa, split over two legs, is contested by the winners of the two competitions.
Survivors of the crash were presented on the pitch before the first leg which Chapecoense won 2-1. Organisers laid on a pre and post-match shows that included fireworks and speeches.
Three of the surviving players, along with a journalist also on board the plane, delivered heartfelt messages before the kick-off. The match, billed as ‘The Gratitude Game’, also featured applause in the 71st minute to commemorate those who died.
The mayors of both Chapeco and Medellin were in attendance and embraced before the game. That camaraderie extended to the stands with the home fans applauding the visitors’ goal in gratitude for the support given to their players and staff in Colombia immediately after the crash.
Reinaldo put Chapecoense ahead on 23 minutes from the penalty spot before Macnelly Torres netted Atlético’s equaliser. Luiz Otavio restored the hosts lead with fifteen minutes to go.
The second leg will be held in the Atanasio Girardot stadium in Medellin on May 10.