Sporting CP reach the final after a thrilling semi-final at a packed Super Bock Arena

What a great atmosphere in a full Pavilhão Rosa Mota for the first semi-final of the WSE Champions League Final Four by Azemad. In a thrilling game with lots of goals and uncertainty right to the end, Sporting CP came out on top and left FC Porto/Simoldes by the wayside. The lions are the first finalists. 

What a game, what an atmosphere, what a great semi-final of the WSE Champions League in a completely sold-out Rosa Mota Pavilion – Super Bock Arena, hosting the best roller hockey in the world. In a match in which uncertainty reigned until the end, Sporting CP were stronger and are through to the grand final, which takes place this Sunday, 12 May, on the same stage.

The game started off with great intensity, with both teams always looking towards the goal posts. And it was Sporting CP who took the lead, first with Nolito making it 1-0, taking advantage of a perfect transition to beat Malián with a powerful shot after 9 minutes. FC Porto/Fidelidade then had a great opportunity, but Hélder Nunes missed the direct free kick. Toni Perez made it 2-0 with a shot that was full of chances.

But the Dragons never gave up, showing that they were ready to defend the trophy they won a year ago. Hélder Nunes reduced the deficit to 2-1, a goal for which all credit to the player who won the ball back from his opponent and produced a superb chip. The equaliser came 30 seconds later, with Carlo di Benedetto successfully pulling back a first-time shot from Gonçalo Alves. 

Half-time came with the score level (2-2), but the lions were determined once again and Alessandro Verona gave Sporting CP a new lead after 29 minutes, in a move set up by João Souto and well finished by Verona. FC Porto/Fidelidade could have reduced the deficit again, but Gonçalo Alves missed a direct free-kick on the half-hour mark.

Sporting CP were proving more effective and Henrique Magalhães increased the lead to 4-2 with a powerful shot that left Malián with no chance. In the other goal, Ângelo Girão shone, saving a penalty from Gonçalo Alves.

At a disadvantage, the Porto players pressed forward and Telmo Pinto reduced the deficit to 4-3 after great work by Ezequiel Mena. 

Needing more goals, FC Porto/Fidelidade also took more risks, leaving their defence unprotected. Sporting CP took advantage to increase their lead decisively. Henrique Magalhães scored twice and Rafael Bessa added to his tally to make it 6-3. 

In a thrilling end to the game, the Portistas didn’t let up: Benedetto reduced the deficit with a direct free kick, 6-4, and scored again a minute later. 6-5 with a minute to go. The Portistas played the final minute without a goalkeeper, going all out in attack, but the score remained unchanged. Sporting CP are through to the final and will once again be competing for the trophy they won in 2020/21. 

Statements from the coaches:

Alejandro Dominguez, Sporting Clube de Portugal coach

“We analysed how FC Porto play and we defended well. Set-pieces are decisive and you practise them a lot and today we were superb, with Girão putting in a great display. We were superb and we’re happy to reach the final. The game was a rollercoaster, but it was tactical, not chaotic. We started very well, we had a great first half, not so good in the second, but with a high percentage of effectiveness, it’s not easy to achieve that against FC Porto and we did it.”

Ricardo Ares, FC Porto/Fidelidade coach

“We didn’t manage it today, we wanted to give the fans something to cheer about, but we didn’t manage it, we’ve won two titles this season, now we’ve still got the championship to fight for. We weren’t able to maintain our usual approach to the game. We didn’t play well in both halves, we made a lot of mistakes and in the Champions League you pay for that, it wasn’t a good game. I have to apologise, there was a great illusion that we would win this competition in our city, on this stage. Congratulations to Sporting.”

Player statements:

Henrique Magalhães, Sporting CP player

“We were comfortable, these games are always like that and today we got through to the final. It’s special to score two goals, especially for me who rarely scores. I hope the fans turn out in force so we can feel their warmth and take the trophy home.”

Telmo Pinto, FC Porto/Fidelidade player

“We’re devastated because we wanted to reach the final and bring joy to the fans once again, but Sporting were stronger, better, congratulations. We conceded six goals, which isn’t normal. We’d like to thank the fans for their support and call on them again for what’s to come, because there’s still a long way to go.”

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