RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A late penalty from Gabriel Barbosa secured reigning Brazilian and South American champions Flamengo a 1-1 draw with Gremio on Wednesday, the Rio de Janeiro side narrowly escaping a third defeat in four matches in the Brazilian league.
Barbosa, nicknamed "Gabigol" and darling of the Flamengo fans due to his top-scorer exploits last season, made his mark in the 85th minute, converting a penalty after VAR ruled that Gremio defender Walter Kannemann handled inside the area.
It was a cruel blow to Gremio who had opened the scoring with a close-range shot from Pepe in the 44th minute and came within five minutes of leaving the Maracana stadium with all three points.
The result maintains Gremio's unbeaten start to the campaign but their last three games have been draws. The Porto Alegre side slipped to sixth position, and will now take on Vasco da Gama away on Sunday.
Flamengo moved up to 13th, but have struggled under new coach Domenec Torrent to repeat the great performances of last season under multi-champion Portuguese Jorge Jesus.
The reigning champions' next game is a local derby against Botafogo, also on Sunday.
(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Jamie McGeever)