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Season review: San Marino

Published: Friday 11 June 2010, 10.27CET
Reigning champions SP Tre Fiori made a poor start but hit form when it mattered to complete the double, beating SP Tre Penne 2-1 in both finals with extra-time Sossio Aruta winners.
by Elia Gorini
from San Marino
Season review: San Marino
Both finals at the Stadio Olimpico went the same way ©Getty Images
Published: Friday 11 June 2010, 10.27CET

Season review: San Marino

Reigning champions SP Tre Fiori made a poor start but hit form when it mattered to complete the double, beating SP Tre Penne 2-1 in both finals with extra-time Sossio Aruta winners.

After a bad start to the new campaign when they lost twice in their first three games, reigning champions SP Tre Fiori changed a gear and secured a play-off berth by finishing third in Group B despite scoring only 26 goals – less than half of the 55 scored by section winners SP Tre Penne. Floriano Sperindio's side, however, hit form when it mattered and Tre Fiori secured both the league title and Coppa Titano, both times beating Tre Penne in extra time.

Champions: SP Tre Fiori
Sperindio led the Florentino side to the title in his first season in charge last term and has now repeated the trick, earning the club their sixth championship. In the final against Tre Penne veteran striker Sossio Aruta gave Tre Fiori a first-half lead but Mirko Palazzi levelled in the 80th minute. Aruta, however, found the net again in extra time to clinch victory and finish as the league's joint top scorer alongside AC Juvenes/Dogana's Marco Fantini with 14 goals.

Cup final: SP Tre Fiori 2–1 SP Tre Penne (aet)
In what was to prove a dress rehearsal for the league final, Tre Fiori lifted the Coppa Titano for the first time in 25 years. Tre Penne took the lead through Matteo Valli but Alessandro Giunta, who missed the first part of the season with a serious injury, forced extra time. The 39-year-old Aruta, formerly at Ascoli Calcio and several other lower division sides in Italy, then did what he was to do again just over a month later in the league decider and struck the winner.

European places*
SP Tre Fiori – UEFA Champions League first qualifying round
SP Tre Penne – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
SC Faetano – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round
*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Mirko Palazzi (SP Tre Penne)
Both technically gifted and tactically important for the team, Palazzi helped Tre Penne to reach two finals with his goalscoring. Formely a deep-lying midfielder, he never looked back after coach Stefano Ceci moved him into a more attacking role, providing decisive assists and scoring crucial goals, notably his league final equaliser.

One to watch: Valentin Grigore (S.S. Pennarossa)
The Romanian moved to Sammarinese football last summer and adapted immediately, totalling 16 goals in league and cup. His side just failed to reach the play-offs where Grigore could well have had a decisive say.

Surprise package: SC Faetano
Faetano finished Group B in second, ahead of Tre Fiori, and were the only side to defeat the eventual champions in the play-offs, though their second-round win, on penalties, was reversed 2-1 when the teams met again in the semi-final. Coach Sereno Uraldi also won the Duilio Felici fair play award for his achievement in leading his side so far on a relatively small budget, an achievement which was rewarded with a European place.

Leading scorers: Marco Fantini, AC Juvenes/Dogana and Sossio Aruta, SP Tre Fiori (14)

Number: 3
Three is the magic number for Sammarinese clubs in 2010 as for the first time UEFA's smallest member nation will enter a trio of teams in European competition next season. Tre Fiori will hope to go one better than on their UEFA Champions League bow last term when they lost on penalties to Andorra's UE Sant Julià after two 1-1 draws while both Tre Penne and Faetano make European debuts in the UEFA Europa League.

Quote
"The defeat on penalties against Sant Julià in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round last season still hurts. We wanted to return to the competition so badly, now with a bit of luck in the draw, you never know what can happen..."
Tre Fiori coach Sperindio after winning the title

Last updated: 11/06/10 9.09CET

http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/association=smr/news/newsid=1497235.html#season+review+san+marino

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