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Barça reclaim Futsal Champions League title from Sporting

Barça beat Sporting CP 4-0 in Riga to avenge their final defeat from 12 months before.

Sergio Lozano lifts the trophy having been part of all four Barça wins
Sergio Lozano lifts the trophy having been part of all four Barça wins SPORTSFILE

The UEFA Futsal Champions League reverted to its regular format for 2021/22 and fans returned following the COVID-19 pandemic, but the final was the same as 12 months before.

Arena Riga, the first 'neutral' venue for a final four after the eight-team event in Zadar in 2021, welcomed holders Sporting CP, Barça, Benfica and France's ACCS Asnières Villeneuve 92. Again the final matched Barça and Sporting, but the Portuguese team were dethroned 12 months after taking the title from the Blaugrana.

Final highlights: Barça 4-0 Sporting CP

After a one-off all-knockout 2020/21 campaign, the three-stage structure of preliminary, main and elite rounds returned to decide the finalists. Barça and Benfica both finished six points clear in their elite round groups and Sporting held Ekaterinburg 1-1 in a decider to go through on goal difference.

Tyumen initially qualified but when Russian clubs were excluded, the runners-up in that group, ACCS, became the first French finalists having pipped two-time champions Kairat Almaty to second place on goal difference.

Semi-final highlights: Benfica 4-5 Barça (aet)

ACCS's team included Ricardinho, previously a winner with Benfica and Inter FS, and despite only having a few weeks to prepare and playing in France's second tier, they gave Sporting a strong semi-final. An eventual 6-2 victory took the Lions into an unprecedented fifth final in six years.

The other last-four tie was a classic. Benfica raced into a 3-0 half-time lead against Barça, who hit back and led themselves before it ended 4-4 after 40 minutes. Penalties loomed but Adolfo struck with 17 seconds left to send Barça through to a record-equalling third straight final, leaving Benfica to beat ACCS 5-2 for third place.

Semi-final highlights: ACCS 2-6 Sporting CP

In a final watched by a Latvian record of more than 8,000 fans, Barça led 2-0 at half-time through Sergio Lozano and Pito. They had been two up at the break the previous year before Sporting came back to win, and Spain had suffered similar comebacks in recent times against Portugal in big games, but this time Barça made it three just after half-time through Ferrao (his 11th career finals goal setting a new outright record) and goalkeeper Didac Plana clinched a 4-0 win late on.

Barça's fourth title took them to within one of Inter's record as they and Sporting continued to alternate as champions in the four years since the UEFA Futsal Cup was rebranded. Lozano became the first player to win the title four times with the same club, Ortiz also adding to his three wins with Inter as they both equalled Gabriel's record of individual successes. Jesús Velasco of Barça became the first coach to win three titles; like Ortiz and Ricardinho, he had triumphed with Inter in 2017 and 2018.