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Monday, May 30, 2005 

Eagles scratch eleven-year itch

SL Benfica are Portuguese champions again, after a 1-1 draw at Boavista FC, coupled with a surprise defeat for reigning champions FC Porto, gave the red half of Lisbon something to celebrate.

Blessed relief
It was a blessed relief for the Lisbon Eagles - with some fans going on pilgrimage to Portugal's national shrine at Fátima to give thanks - and not least for the Algarve baker who pledged to make a giant cake, a metre in length for every year that went by without Benfica winning the SuperLiga title. He was finally able to set to work on his eleven-metre long cake, which weighed in at 300kg and contained 1,200 eggs, this Wednesday. "If Benfica had failed this season, the cake would no longer have fitted in the patisserie," he said.

Travelling army
Despite a 300km journey, the Estádio do Bessa was packed to the rafters with Benfica fans on Sunday to see Giovanni Trapattoni's side take the crown in their main rivals' home city, Porto. However, celebrations afterwards were not confined to the stadium.

Widespread celebrations
Benfica fans partied in Porto's main square and the Champs d'Elysées in Paris - home to one million Portuguese - while back in Lisbon, crowds in the central plaza was brought traffic to a standstill. The team's motorcade experienced considerable delays because of jubilant supporters clogging roads in both Lisbon and Porto.

Grand homecoming
When they finally reached their home stadium at 4:00AM, 50,000 supporters had gathered the stands at the Estádio da Luz to greet them - as many as had been at the Estádio José Alvalade a few days earlier to see Benfica's local rivals, Sporting Clube de Portugal, lose in the UEFA Cup final. "What I have witnessed in the last few days is fantastic," said coach Trapattoni. "In a 35-year career as a coach, I have never seen anything like this in terms of support."

Nervous moments
Success had been far from certain for Benfica. While they overcame Sporting in a local derby the previous weekend to remove their Lisbon rivals from the title race, they had surprisingly lost the game before against FC Penafiel. That left them needing to avoid defeat on the last day of the season to be sure of taking the title.

Ringing endorsement
The final success was a ringing endorsement of Trapattoni's pragmatic style of football. His style did not always delight the fans, but in retrospect, the 66-year-old former Juventus FC and Italy coach was hailed as the only man who could have led the club to the title.

Special memories
Trapattoni said: "Of all the titles I have won [seven Serie A titles, one German Bundesliga and now one in Portugal], this is one of the most special ones for me. At the start of the season, I did not think that this would ever be possible, but then I started to believe.

Uncertain future
"We entirely deserved to clinch this title and the players were just superb," he added. "I still don't know whether I will stay or if I will leave and it is time to think thoroughly about my future. I have to talk with my family, who I miss so much, and then I'll decide."

Source: Uefa.com

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11 anos sem ganhar nada .
ja la vao 14 sem ganhar nada e nao venham com treta de 2005 porque nao foi ganho mas sim robado ou dado como querem he he he he he

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