Sporting Clube de Portugal 1-3 PFC CSKA Moskva
(Rogério 29; Berezutski 56, Zhirkov 66, Vágner Love 75)
Estádio José Alvalade, Lisbon
Newspaper Sport-Express declared Russian football would forever be divided into "before and after" 18 May 2005 – the day PFC CSKA Moskva became the first Russian club to win a major European trophy. That they had defeated Sporting Clube de Portugal 3-1 on their home ground, the Estádio José Alvalade, in Lisbon, made their achievement all the more remarkable.
For the first time the UEFA Cup included a group stage with 40 teams competing for a place in the knockout rounds. Wins against Panionios NFC and FC Dinamo Tbilisi ensured Sporting’s safe passage to the Round of 32 where they were joined by CSKA, parachuted into the competition from the UEFA Champions League. In a strong field, little was expected from Valeriy Gazzaev's young side, but prompted by the guile of playmaker Daniel Carvalho and the goals of his Brazilian compatriot Vágner Love, CSKA brushed past Sporting’s Lisbon rivals Benfica SL, FK Partizan and AJ Auxerre and Parma FC en route to the final.
Sporting, meanwhile, were gaining admirers every round following eye-catching victories against Feyenoord, Middlesbrough FC and Newcastle United FC. Brazilian striker Liedson had proved the catalyst to their success with eight goals to that point and Sporting’s much-vaunted attack was expected to be more than a match for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in the semi-finals. Liedson was on the scoresheet again in the Netherlands but an astonishing tie would not be decided until the final minute of extra-time when, with Alkmaar on the verge of a famous victory, Miguel Garcia struck to take the aggregate score to 4-4 and the Portuguese side through on the away-goals’ rule.
With the final to come in Lisbon, the cup seemed destined for Sporting. But as Portugal before them discovered the previous year in the final of UEFA EURO 2004, the underdogs had other ideas. Then it was Greece that broke Portuguese hearts, this time it was a dazzling second-half performance from Carvalho. Trailing 1-0, Carvalho helped CSKA turn the final on its head after the break, setting up goals for Aleksei Berezoutski, Yuri Zhirkov and Love to seal, in the words of Gazzaev, "a landmark victory for Russian football".
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