The UEFA Europa League trophy may have eluded them, but SL Benfica are celebrating a stunning achievement having become the first side to win a domestic treble in Portugal.
"Today, we made history," said coach Jorge Jesus after Nicolás Gaitán's goal in Sunday's final against Rio Ave FC secured the Eagles' 25th Portuguese Cup, to go with the 33rd league title and fifth League Cup they claimed earlier in the month. "The players were dead in the second half. The Europa League final took a great deal out of us. If we hadn't scored in the first half, we probably wouldn't have had the ability to go for the goal. The players were completely exhausted."
Benfica's loss to Sevilla FC on penalties in last week's UEFA Europa League final in Turin had left its mark on Jesus's squad in more ways than one; Guilherme Siqueira (calf) and Miralem Sulejmani (shoulder), both starters at Juventus Stadium, joined long-term absentees Sílvio and Ljubomir Fejsa on the sidelines at the Estádio Nacional, though Enzo Pérez, Eduardo Salvio and Lazar Marković were available having missed the Sevilla game through suspension.
The patched-together side managed to claim Jesus's first final win in three attempts, the coach having lost out with CF Os Belenenses in 2007 and last year with Benfica. It was also some kind of consolation for last season's end-of-season meltdown in which the Eagles let slip their grip on the title, before losing in the finals of both the UEFA Europa League, to Chelsea FC, and the Portuguese Cup, to Vitória SC.
"This win was very important not only because it was a title but because it completed an clean sweep season in domestic competitions," said Jesus with pride. "No team had done this before."
Captain Luisão added: "It's a dream season – amazing. We are exhausted but we have to be proud. What these guys did today for the club is wonderful. These achievements mean much because we suffered so much last season."
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