Futsal Champions League final report, Palma 1-1 Sporting CP (aet, 5-3pens): Hosts claim title on debut
Sunday, May 7, 2023
Mallorca Palma Futsal delighted the home crowd with a penalty shoot-out success against Sporting CP to win their first major title.
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Mallorca Palma Futsal claimed a debut title in the UEFA Futsal Champions League as the hosts thrilled a capacity Velòdrom Illes Balears crowd by defeating two-time winners Sporting CP on penalties in a breathless final.
Match in brief: Palma party after penalties
The sold-out arena was at fever pitch at kick-off, with plenty of Sporting support in the crowd as well. The initial exchanges between the teams were intense too, albeit with few clear openings for two sides that built their Friday semi-final successes on early goals. Gradually, Palma seemed to grow more threatening, but Sporting keeper Guitta proved equal to their efforts.
He was finally beaten in the 14th minute, and the opening goal was down to his opposite number Luan Muller, who embarked on a slaloming run forward. Muller stumbled while entering the box, but Mario Rivillos was there to shoot into the roof of the net.
Muller was made to work just before half-time after some fine skill by Tomás Paço, and he also dived to tip away a João Matos effort. Diego Cavinato, scorer of a spectacular goal in Sporting's 7-1 semi-final defeat of Anderlecht, posed a real threat early in the second half, while Rivillos cut out a Guitta pass only for the goalkeeper to get back in time to save the shot, and the Brazil No1 also denied Mancuso with a timely dive.
Pauleta had a look of astonishment as Muller somehow turned his strike onto the Palma post and, to show it was no fluke, the Armenia goalkeeper repeated the trick a couple of minutes later to frustrate the same player. With just under eight minutes left, however, Zicky levelled, pouncing when Cavinato's shot from a familiar Alex Merlim long corner was parried by Muller.
The hosts nearly had a late winner when Guitta advanced and Muller saved, Chaguinha picking up the ball and trying his luck from distance with the Sporting net unguarded – only for his shot to fall onto the post. Guitta then produced acrobatics to frustrate Cleber and ensure extra time, which came and went with few clear chances.
Muller, named Player of the Tournament, saved Sporting's first shoot-out effort from Pany Varela to give the hosts the advantage. They still held it after two penalties each, when Palma's back-up keeper and captain Carlos Barrón, and Sporting's Neves, both received straight red cards.
Palma continued to remain perfect from the spot and it was Rivillos who stepped up to take their fifth penalty, duly burying it to start the party for Mallorca's first major European club title. Not bad for a squad containing only four players who had ever featured in UEFA club competition before this season.
Luan Muller, Palma goalkeeper and Player of the Tournament: "I'm speechless. Not even in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen one day. What a night! Every single player left it all out there and it's simply amazing that we can lift the trophy and say we are the champions. To be able to help my team in the shoot-out and win the Player of the Tournament award… I just hope I don't wake up tomorrow and it was all a dream."
Antonio Vadillo, Palma coach: "With all we have been through, it was like it was written in a script. Today I prayed a lot. I did not see the penalties. I didn't know we had won. I don't know how it unfolded. I just prayed that the sport wasn't so cruel to us again.
"The plan was to neutralise Sporting's strong points. They are very strong in dead-ball situations and with Guitta going forward. I think we managed to stop him or at least make Sporting think twice about it. I think we managed to defend their pivots very well, stopping Zicky and Cavinato appearing in dangerous zones of the pitch. We did very well defensively; we had to suffer a lot in the dying minutes as they pushed us back with long balls.
"Once again, I say I love Sporting and I think Nuno Dias is the best coach in the world at preparing for matches, but today we were perfect."
Nuno Dias, Sporting coach: "It was a very even match and it could have gone either way. It always hurts to lose, but maybe a bit more this way. We were the better team in the second half and extra time, but that means little given the fact we didn't win the trophy. I think we played very well and I'm very proud of my players because they gave everything. We have to congratulate Palma, and the support of their fans was important for them."
João Matos, Sporting captain: "We struggled with Palma's intensity and will in the first half but we improved a lot after the break and were much better than them in the second half and extra time. It's quite hard to go down like this, but we need to keep our heads up because we did the best we could. It's not the first time we've been in this position of losing a final and it probably won't be the last, but it's the way we bounce back that counts. We've done it in the past and will do it again."
- Palma are the fifth debutants to win the title (not counting the inaugural edition).
- Spain have now won 12 of the 22 competition editions.
- Palma are the first solo hosts to win the title since Barça (also on debut) in 2012.
- Rivillos also scored twice against Sporting in the 2017 final for Inter FS.
- Sporting are the first team to reach six finals in seven years. Since the tournament became the Futsal Champions League in 2018/19, they have missed only one final.
- Sporting were in their third consecutive final, matching the record they previously equalled between 2017 and 2019, and share with FC Dynamo (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2012, 2013, 2014), Inter (2016, 2017, 2018) and Barça (2020, 2021, 2022).
- Sporting coach Nuno Dias coached his 15th finals game in his seventh final tournament and his sixth final, all outright records.
- Sporting captain João Matos played his 19th finals game and seventh separate final (some players have played eight final matches, including both legs under the pre-2007 format). Matos became the first player to reach 75 competition appearances in the semi-finals.
- The was the first final since 2014 to go to extra time. Never in any of Sporting's six previous finals had the additional ten minutes been needed.
- This was only the second final to go to penalties and the first since 2008, when Ekaterinburg beat Murcia. Just as for Ekaterinburg, this was Palma's first major title (even domestically).
Third place: Benfica take bronze
Earlier at Velòdrom Illes Balears, Benfica earned third place for the second year running despite a late comeback by Sporting Anderlecht Futsal, the first Belgian team in the top four since 2007.
Ivan Chishkala struck first for Benfica, and again early in the second half after Gréllo had made it 1-1 at the break. Diego Nunes, like Gréllo a former Palma player, added to Benfica's lead and Arthur made it 4-1, only for Anderlecht's ex-Eagles goalkeeper Diego Roncaglio to find the target. Gréllo, now on as flying keeper, set up a frantic finish as he pulled it back to 4-3, but Benfica held on.