Benfica delight home crowd to win Futsal Cup
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
A total of 15,700 people watched the 2009/10 finals at Lisbon's Pavilhão Atlântico in April and were rewarded by a first triumph for hosts SL Benfica over three-time winners Interviú Madrid.
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Six years on from losing the old two-legged UEFA Futsal Cup final to Interviú Madrid, SL Benfica turned the tables with a 3-2 extra-time victory in front of a competition-record 9,400 crowd at Lisbon's Pavilhão Atlântico back in April.
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 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 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 had reached the last four of the UEFA Futsal Euro 2010 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, winning 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 coach André Lima played in the Benfica side that lost the 2004 final, made it 2-1 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, a winner in 2005 with Action 21 Charleroi of Belgium.
"It was the perfect final with an unbelievable crowd," André Lima said. "We faced the best team in the world and what's more we had to play extra time ... There were many times in my career that I had to look up to Interviú Madrid but right now I can say that for once it's their turn to look up at us."
The coach subsequently left Benfica to be replaced by Paulo Fernandes, who had led Sporting Clube de Portugal to the Liga title at their expense. Both teams have made this season's finals in late April, along with Kairat and ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5 of Italy.