"I am proud of my boys," said Benfica coach Joel Rocha after a dramatic victory against Lokomotiv Kharkiv in Bratislava ended the 2010 winners' five-year finals absence.
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Benfica are through to their first UEFA Futsal Cup finals since losing their European title in Almaty in 2011 and there was relief for coach Joel Rocha.
Having cruised through the main round in early October, Benfica opened elite round Group D in Bratislava with a 3-0 defeat of Ekonomac Kragujevac, scoring three second-half goals. But the following day, in front of a record Slovakian futsal crowd of 4,000, hosts Slov-Matic Bratislava surprised Benfica 5-4; it was level at 2-2 until the home team struck three times between the 34th and 35th minutes, with the Portuguese champions pulling two back at the end.
Those late goals were nonetheless crucial as they meant Slov-Matic could no longer qualify and that Benfica would be assured of first place if they overcame Lokomotiv Kharkiv by a two-goal margin, which they duly did after Wilhelm registered on 33 minutes and Fábio Cecílio added another with just two seconds to go.
Joel Rocha, who took charge of the 2010 UEFA Futsal Cup winners last year and helped them complete the Portuguese double, said: "I am proud of my boys, of the whole Benfica futsal team. We managed to get into the final. I think we fully deserved it.
"We played until the final seconds of each match and showed great determination. It was difficult after the loss to Slov-Matic but I am happy how the team reacted. We showed great team spirit, I believed in my boys at all times. We showed our quality. Now there is room for celebration, then we will analyse our mistakes and prepare for the finals."