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'Proud' Benfica hold heads high after final defeat

SL Benfica captain João Nunes told UEFA.com that the Eagles will return home full of "pride and hope" after a final loss to FC Barcelona in which they were "superior".

'Proud' Benfica hold heads high after final defeat
'Proud' Benfica hold heads high after final defeat ©UEFA.com

Rather than dwell on the disappointment of a 3-0 loss to FC Barcelona in the UEFA Youth League final, the message from SL Benfica at full time was loud and clear: be proud.

Eagles captain João Nunes told UEFA.com that the Portuguese side will travel home with "pride and hope" after a Nyon showpiece in which they "played very well" and were "superior to Barcelona". Benfica coach João Tralhão echoed his skipper's sentiments while saying his players should reflect on their campaign with immense satisfaction.

João Nunes, Benfica captain
I wouldn't call it disappointment because we showed that we have a team to face any other in the world. We were big; we played well and were very strong in the second half. In the first half we had some chances to score, but we didn't. In the second we were quite superior to Barcelona, we kept them completely in their half of the pitch. It's a pity we can't take the trophy, that would have been well-deserved, but we leave with pride and hope.

I won't say that the penalty [rifled against the crossbar at 1-0 by Romário Baldé] was key because after it we still had a lot of chances. The penalty was just one more opportunity we had to score. We played very well. We could have taken the trophy. We can say that we were superior to Barcelona − because we were.

I can't stop thanking all the fans that were here − they were great. Even though it was a bad result, they were supporting us the whole game. It [the tournament] was a very good experience. It's an international competition that gives us another taste of what will come next.

João Tralhão, Benfica coach
No, it's not disappointing at all. We are all very proud of what we did, of the journey that we had in this competition. If the match had been fair to us today we would have left here with a victory.

But I congratulate Barcelona, who have a fantastic team, a very mature team, a team with great talent that already has a lot of experience. Therefore I have to congratulate Barcelona, but the fact is that I'm very proud of my players.

All of us have had enriching experiences from this competition. Obviously we would prefer to learn from a victory, but we we will be able to draw conclusions from this defeat and understand what we can take from here for the future.

Nuno Santos, Benfica forward
We were much better than Barcelona, but, as they say, finals aren't played, they are won. Barcelona had three chances and scored three goals. We weren't clinical enough, but we were united, we were a team, we were a super team. I'm very proud of everyone. I can't say that we were [the better side] because we didn't win, but we are very proud. Now we have to think about the league. We should turn the page and focus on the league.