Watch Chapecoense score in emotional first game since plane crash

BY Caitlin Murray • January 21, 2017

It was less than two months ago that Chapecoense was devastated by a plane crash that killed most of the squad and coaching staff. The Brazilian team's return to the pitch seemed too far off to even imagine.

But Chape has been determined to rebuild, and after signing a batch of new players, the club is back. Chapecoense played their first game and scored their first goal since the plane crash in a friendly Saturday – a milestone in the club's return and a touching moment as fans and survivors of the crash looked on.

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Douglas Grolli, who joined Chape on loan from Cruzeiro earlier this month, got the tap-in off a corner kick as the 20,000-large crowd celebrated. It was a poetic moment as Grolli once trained with Chape's academy and started his career there. Jakson Follmann, the goalkeeper who lost a leg in the crash, can be seen in the video clip clapping and wearing a neck brace.

Another survivor, radio journalist Rafael Henzel, announced the friendly match in a return to the broadcast booth. Of those killed in the crash, 20 were journalists.

Follmann was joined at the 2-2 draw vs. Palmeiras by defender Alan Ruschel, who said his life was saved when Follmann asked him to sit with him, and Helio Neto, a defender who also survived the crash. The survivors participated in a pre-match ceremony where they lifted the Copa Sudamericana trophy for the first time.



“I will be here to give support to the players that come,” Neto said Friday. “It’s not easy to represent all those who died, but I want to be fit to play so I can be more than a symbol. I want to make a real contribution."

Chape were traveling on Nov. 28 to the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final vs. Atletico Nacional in Colombia when the charter plane ran out of fuel and crashed, killing 71 people with six surviving. Nacional asked that Chapecoense be awarded the trophy in lieu of being able to play the final match of the series.

Though Neto and Ruschel look to be targeting a return to soccer, Chape signed a new squad's worth of players to be back up and running in time for the 2017 season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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