Benfica delight Lisbon masses
A total of 15,700 people turned up for the two days of action in the 2009/10 finals at Lisbon's Pavilhão Atlântico and were rewarded by a first triumph for hosts SL Benfica.
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SL Benfica had reached the old two-legged UEFA Futsal Cup final in 2004 and lost to Interviú Madrid. Six years on the former European football titlewinners turned the tables on the sole three-time futsal champions with a 3-2 extra-time victory in front of a competition-record 9,400 crowd at Lisbon's Pavilhão Atlântico.
Benfica's maiden triumph was not the only fresh thing about the 2010 finals. Whereas all previous events since the four-team showpiece was introduced in 2007 had featured the top four seeds, this time three established names fell in the elite round; Benfica ousted 2008 winners MFK Viz-Sinara Ekaterinburg, Azerbaijan's Araz Naxçivan defeated three-time semi-finalists Kairat Almaty and Italy's Luparense C/5 pipped Spanish champions ElPozo Murcia FS.
The choice of the Pavilhão Atlântico as the venue marked a return to the competition's roots as the first edition in 2001/02 concluded uniquely with an eight-team final tournament at the Lisbon waterfront venue. Holders Interviú were tipped to give Spain their sixth triumph in nine editions but did not have things all their own way in their semi-final against Araz, who shared a coach – Alesio – and the core of the squad with the Azerbaijan side that reached the UEFA Futsal Euro 2010 last four three months earlier in Hungary. Twice Interviú had leads cancelled out but in the last seven minutes scored three times to win 5-2. Goals flowed again that evening as Benfica defeated Luparense 8-4.
Araz took third place on 5-4 on penalties against Luparense, and by the time of the final the arena was almost full. Marquinho struck on seven for Interviú in their fifth final but Joel quickly equalised from Ricardinho's free-kick, his 12th goal of the competition making him the season's top scorer. Arnaldo, who like Zé Maria, Pedro Costa, Ricardinho, substitute goalkeeper Zé Carlos and current coach André Lima played in the Benfica side that lost the 2004 final, made it 2-1 to early in the second half with a back-heel before Betão responded in similar style three minutes later.
Benfica still pushed and in extra time had their reward when Amado's loose pass was turned in by Davi under the gaze of the club's famed eagle mascot, perched behind the Interviú goal. Coincidentally, Davi was also a winner in 2005 with Action 21 Charleroi of Belgium, the only other team from outside Spain or Russia to have won the UEFA Futsal Cup.