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Jesus can't beat Benifca curse

By Associated Press in Turin,Italy (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-16 07:17

Sports fans are by nature a superstitious lot and are no strangers to their clubs being "cursed."

It took the Boston Red Sox 86 years to break the Curse of the Bambino, while for the Chicago Cubs it's 104 years and counting.

So in the annals of great sporting hoodoos, Portuguese soccer club Benfica has a way to go.

However, after eight defeats in European finals since 1962, it becomes harder to deny that the club's Bela Guttman curse lives on.

The Portuguese club was arguably the better side over the 120 minutes of Wednesday's Europa League final, but ultimately lost 4-2 to Sevilla on penalties after the scoreless match ended.

It is the second consecutive year Benfica players have to console themselves with runner-up medals, after losing to Chelsea in the final of the same competition last season.

"The players fought but they lacked a bit of luck again," Benfica captain Luisao said. "Once again, in a final, the ball just didn't go in."

Jesus can't beat Benifca curse

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus and several of the players laughed off talk of the infamous curse in the buildup to the final, but it has now been 52 years since coach Guttman stormed out and the club has failed in every single one of its subsequent European title clashes.

Known as the Jose Mourinho of his era, Guttman had just led Benfica to back-to-back European Cup victories and the Portuguese club looked set to rule the international stage for years to come.

However, shortly after steering his side to victory over Real Madrid in 1962, Guttman quit when his request for a pay hike was turned down.

On leaving he allegedly cursed the club, declaring "not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion."

And so far it hasn't.

It has lost to AC Milan (twice), Inter Milan, Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven in the European Cup and Anderlecht, Chelsea and now Benfica in the Europa League or UEFA Cup, as it was formerly known.

The last European Cup final it was involved in was held in Vienna, where Guttman is buried, and legend Eusebio even went to the grave of his former manager to pray for the curse to be lifted.

It had little effect and Benfica remains jinxed.

Jesus bullishly said at the pre-match press conference that he didn't believe in any sort of hoodoo, adding: "Most of the players don't even know about these statistics. It's folklore."

However, after once again bemoaning his team's poor luck in a final and saying "the best team did not win the Europa League," Jesus might be rethinking his opinion on the curse.

Benfica fans can console themselves that there only 48 years to go.

 Jesus can't beat Benifca curse

Sevilla's Kevin Gameiro reacts after Benfica goalkeeper Jan Oblak failed to stop his penalty during their Europa League final showdown at Juventus stadium in Turin on Wednesday. Stefano Rellandini / Reuters

(China Daily 05/16/2014 page23)

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