Benfica coach Rui Vitoria revelled in the spirit shown by his players in a 2-2 Champions League draw with Bayern Munich on Wednesday, despite seeing his team eliminated from the quarter-final 3-2 on aggregate.
Raul Jimenez wiped out Bayern’s first-leg advantage in the 27th minute and should have done better with a close-range strike soon after, instead prodding straight at goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Bayern hit back with goals from Arturo Vidal and Thomas Muller either side of the break to leave Benfica with a mountain to climb in Lisbon.
Talisca did net a free-kick late on to reduce the deficit, as fans at Estadio da Luz showed their appreciation for a committed display.
But the damage had already been done, depriving Benfica of a maiden semi-final appearance in the Champions League era.
“We fought until the end, so I have to congratulate my players and these amazing supporters,” Vitoria is quoted as saying by UEFA.com. “It was a great match.
“We faced a very powerful team that knows how to dictate the pace of the game. We promised we would go eye to eye with Bayern and we did so.”
Goalscorer Jimenez added: “I am happy I scored. We even had an opportunity to make it 2-0, but football is like this.
“We are proud of what we’ve done. We managed to level the tie and we are happy with what we’ve done, because we showed we can compete with any team.”