SS Folgore completed their first domestic double in San Marino after coming from behind to beat ten-man AC Juvenes/Dogana 3-1 in the San Marinese Championship play-off final and claim their fourth title.
After lifting the Coppa Titano for the first time by thrashing SS Murata 5-0 earlier this month, this final proved tougher for Folgore. They needed two goals in the last four minutes to overcome Juvenes/Dogana having gone behind to an Alex Gasperoni effort in the first half.
Folgore had topped regular season Group B with four points more than Group A winners Juvenes/Dogana. That meant they began the double elimination play-offs in the third round, Folgore winning 2-1 against tonight's opponents and then seeing off reigning champions SP La Fiorita by the same scoreline after extra time to make the final. Juvenes/Dogana themselves knocked out La Fiorita on penalties on Saturday, having defeated SP Tre Fiori 3-0 to remain in contention.
Gasperoni struck first in the final but Francesco Perrotta equalised for Folgore before the break. The game remained in the balance until the 87th minute when Juvenes/Dogana midfielder Nicola Canini was sent off for a second bookable offence after a foul on the edge of the area. Manuel Muccini fired in the free-kick with a powerful low shot and soon after Perrotta finished a counterattack with a fine lob for his second of the night.
Folgore coach Nicola Berardi, whose side lost last season's final to La Fiorita, said: "The lads deserved this victory because they've worked so hard this season. We created lots of chances in the first half but conceded a goal against the run of play. We did very well to react quickly but the second half was very even and either side could have won it."
Perrotta added: "It was a deserved victory – we always believed we could go all the way and we did it.
I'm delighted because I will be able to play in the UEFA Champions League for the first time in my career."
Indeed Folgore, the first team from San Marino to play in Europe when they faced FC Basel 1893 in the 2000/01 UEFA Cup, can look forward to a UEFA Champions League qualifying bow. Juvenes/Dogana will go into the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round along with third-placed La Fiorita.
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