FC Santa Coloma will represent Andorra in next season's UEFA Champions League after a 0-0 draw against closest rivals UE Sant Julià on Sunday secured them a eighth national title with one game to spare.
Four points clear at the top of the table, Richard Imbernón's side went into the game knowing a draw would be enough to guarantee first place. They came close to winning the game outright; midfielders Juanfer Laín and Albert Mercadé both passed up one-on-one chances, while Marc Pujol struck an effort against a post for Santa Coloma at the Centre Esportiu d'Alàs. Defender Andreu Ramos's header from a corner was disallowed by the referee.
However, there were to be no nasty surprises for Santa Coloma, who won their last crown in 2010/11. Having lost three games all season, they put on a spurt at the end to kill off their rivals, taking 31 points from a possible 36 in their last 12 games, including a ten-game winning streak at the start of the year. "The key to this team's success is love," Pujol told UEFA.com. "Each and every player would give his life for another. Now it's time to celebrate. This will be my first time in Europe and that gives me a thrill."
Coach Imbernón told UEFA.com: "The first feeling is of pride in being able to manage a magnificent team like this, and also gratitude to the FC Santa Coloma board for trusting me; this title makes me very happy." Captain David Ribolleda added: "This club opted for a new project with many changes. Initially we struggled, but through hard work we have achieved our goal. The key is that we have always been a solid group in training and games and each of us individually is very clear about our role."
Santa Coloma could yet claim a double; they take on Sant Julià in the semi-finals of the Andorran Cup in May.
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