A big of sporting – and Sporting – history was made on Friday night in Lisbon as the record crowd for the UEFA Futsal Cup was set in a packed Meo Arena.
The attendance of 12,076 for the semi-final between hosts Sporting Clube de Portugal and hosts FC Barcelona was nearly 3,000 more than the previous best, set when SL Benfica won the 2010 competition in the same venue. A deafening noise was made under the roof as Sporting took the lead and then came back from 3-1 down to level, only for Barcelona to score twice in the last minute to reach Sunday's final.
Barcelona's two-goal forward Wilde, whose career has including a home FIFA Futsal World Cup victory in Brazil, told UEFA.com: "I have played many, many matches and I have never seen anything like this. I have to congratulate Sporting for what they did inside the arena, for futsal this is very beautiful. It's a shame that only one of us could make the final."
Sporting goalkeeper and captain João Benedito, part of the club's set-up for two decades, added: "What we experienced today here was unique. It is a long time since I have seen such a communion between a team and a crowd."
The fans too enjoyed the experience, as these supporters, many of who travelled long distances to attend, told UEFA.com..
Carlos Pimenta, Sporting fan
I travelled [almost 280km] from Portimao [in Algarve] because to see Sporting playing there are no long distances. I follow Sporting every week and we arrived early and we were among the first fans to enter the arena. We don't want to miss anything. For me, Sporting's futsal team has become more and more important. I watch the matches on television but it's even better to attend them live.
Ricardo Fernandes, Sporting fan
I came from Viseu [290km north of Lisbon] where I play futsal for ABC Nelas in the Portuguese second division. I love futsal. This is a very big moment for Sporting and we want to be part of every big moment for our club. My ambition is to play for the Sporting futsal team one day.
Julio Rodríguez, Santiago FS fan supporting Dina
We travelled from Santiago de Compostela to support our friends Alemao and Carlinhos [both playing for ISK Dina Moskva, who lost the first semi-final]. We are their friends since the time they were playing in Santiago so we came to support them, and also Dina of course. It's the first time I have come to such a big competition. I am going stay here all weekend to enjoy it.
Hugo Santos, Sporting fan
I live in Lisbon and came early to follow everything and because my seat is not numbered. I am a follower of futsal matches and more now that the [Portuguese] league is reaching its end. Futsal is a very important sport [at Sporting] so it's nice to support them.
— UEFA Futsal (@UEFAFutsal) April 24, 2015
With all tickets covering both days of the competition, Sporting fans will have a second chance to see their team when they play Dina for third place on Sunday before Barcelona take on Kairat Almaty in the final.
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