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Barcelona, Benfica win play-off thrillers

Published: Tuesday 26 June 2012, 15.50CET
UEFA Futsal Cup winners FC Barcelona have retained the Spanish title while SL Benfica are back in continental competition after regaining the Portuguese crown.
Barcelona, Benfica win play-off thrillers
Javi Rodríguez, who lifted the UEFA Futsal Cup in April, bowed out from Barcelona with a league title ©Sportsfile

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Published: Tuesday 26 June 2012, 15.50CET

Barcelona, Benfica win play-off thrillers

UEFA Futsal Cup winners FC Barcelona have retained the Spanish title while SL Benfica are back in continental competition after regaining the Portuguese crown.

UEFA Futsal Cup winners FC Barcelona have retained the Spanish title while 2010 European champions SL Benfica are back in continental competition after regaining the Portuguese crown.

Barcelona, who took their first league title last season and this term won the UEFA Futsal Cup in their debut campaign, were in the championship play-off final against Murcia FS, and after two victories apiece it went to a decider on Monday night. Thanks to their regular season finish Murcia had home advantage, but fell to a 6-3 defeat with former Spain captain Javi Rodríguez scoring twice on his Barcelona swansong.

Rodríguez, whose side also won both Spanish cups and will be joined in Europe next season by Murcia, said: "I have mixed feelings. I am very happy to have won a title, but also sad because it is my last trophy with the team. We played a tough game which either could have won. I hope the club continues on the same path. These players will continue to give everything."

In Portugal the final between Lisbon rivals Benfica and Sporting Clube de Portugal also went to a fifth-match decider. Staging the game at Pavilhão da Luz, Benfica – without Ricardinho due to suspension – lost a 3-1 lead in the last five minutes to force extra time before Diece and Alex struck as the Eagles prevailed 5-4, like Barcelona completing a domestic clean sweep.

Benfica coach Paulo Fernandes, who helped Sporting win the title in 2004 and 2010 before switching clubs and losing last year's final to his former side, said: "I owe a debt to these wonderful fans. There are no words to describe what I am feeling. This is my 14th trophy in Portugal but it's the most special of all."

Benfica, like Barcelona and Murcia, look set to start the 2012/13 UEFA Futsal Cup in the elite round. Other leading contenders next season include 2007 champions MFK Dinamo Moskva, Luparense C/5 of Italy and Kairat Almaty.

Last updated: 03/07/12 12.26CET

http://www.uefa.com/futsalcup/news/newsid=1834154.html#barcelona+benfica+play+thrillers

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