Rui Costa has revealed his delight at marking his homecoming with a wonder goal that helped take SL Benfica into the UEFA Champions League.
The Lisbon team made sure three Portuguese clubs would compete in the group stage for the first time with a 3-0 victory against FK Austria Wien last night. Much of that success was down to Rui Costa, who capped his first Benfica appearance since his departure at the end of the title-winning 1993/94 season with a thunderous breakthrough strike in the 21st minute. The 34-year-old claimed rapturous applause when substituted midway through the second half, with the sell-out crowd at the Estádio da Luz giving him a standing ovation.
"This was my first official match since I left Benfica 12 years ago so there was already a lot of emotion - and then even more when I scored," the former AC Milan and ACF Fiorentina playmaker said. "It was an important goal that opened the doors to the group stage. It was amazing when I was substituted. A reception like that is great for your confidence. I am back home and very happy to know the supporters are glad to have me. I will always do my best and try to have more nights like tonight."
More to come
Benfica coach Fernando Santos was quick to praise the No10's contribution but, reflecting the expectation on Benfica this season, suggested he may have had an even more productive evening. "Rui Costa's goal was a beautiful moment for the Estádio da Luz but he could have scored more. This result is just the beginning. My team are still improving and we know we can get better. The players are working very hard and they are trying to produce in training and in the matches what I am asking of them. I want to congratulate them."
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