SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Almost a year since their squad was wiped out in an airplane crash, Brazilian team Chapecoense have achieved what many thought impossible by securing their first division status with a 2-1 win over Vitoria on Thursday.
The result ensured Chapecoense will avoid the drop with three games remaining, having turned down the chance of immunity from relegation after the Nov. 28 crash that killed almost all their players and staff as they flew to Colombia for the final of the Copa Sudamericana.
Seventy-one of the 77 people on board the plane perished and the small team from southern Brazil were forced to rebuild from scratch.
They started the season well and even briefly topped the Serie A table in May but fell away and used three different coaches over the course of the year.
The players marked Thursday’s achievement with a repeat of the celebration that made them famous, as players, coaches and directors banged on the dressing room lockers and chanted “Vamos Vamos Chape.”
A year ago, a video of the players celebrating in the same way after overcoming San Lorenzo in the Copa Sudamericana semi-final was replayed on screens the world over in the wake of the plane crash.
Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ian Ransom