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2005: Arroyo sparks Basque celebrations

Alain Arroyo scored the only goal of the final after 33 minutes, but José Antonio Goikoetxea's side rarely looked in trouble.
2005: Arroyo sparks Basque celebrations
Basque Country celebrate winning the 2005 UEFA Regions' Cup ©Getty Images

2005: Arroyo sparks Basque celebrations

Alain Arroyo scored the only goal of the final after 33 minutes, but José Antonio Goikoetxea's side rarely looked in trouble.

Spanish representatives Basque Country AMA won the fifth edition of the UEFA Regions' Cup in Proszowice following a 1-0 win against South-West Region-Sofia AMA in the final.

With Alain Arroyo scoring the only goal of the game after 33 minutes, José Antonio Goikoetxea's side rarely looked in trouble, even after captain Fernando Veliz was dismissed after 54 minutes. However, goalkeeper José Carlos González made some fine saves late on to deny the Bulgarian side an equaliser.

It was something of an unhappy ending for Sofia, who had been the surprise package of the tournament in the Malopolska (Lesser Poland) region, winning against Brno AMA and Małopolska AMA before Ivan Todorov's late goal gave them a 2-2 draw in their final game against Central Slovakia AMA to see them take top spot in Group A at the final tournament.

It was a hard lesson for the Slovakian side, who improved enormously following a 1-1 opening-day draw against Małopolska. With one of the tournament's finest players in goalkeeper Peter Perniš, they were within five minutes of the final when Todorov's header for ten-man Sofia dashed their hopes of a meeting with the Basque team.

Basque Country, meanwhile, signaled their intention to battle for the title with a 4-1 opening-day win against Ukraine's Kahovka-Kzeso AMA, and despite changing seven players from the team that started that game, they won their second game against Romania's Dacia AMA 2-1 - a result which combined with scores elsewhere, put them into the final.

The final group match saw a patched-together Basque Country side convincingly beaten 3-1 by Republic of Ireland AMA, who blew their chances of a place in the final after a 4-2 defeat against Kahovka in their second game. The Ukrainian team, meanwhile, looked a changed outfit following their opening game, beating Ireland and Dacia to claim the runners-up slot.

The eight sides who reached the finals were whittled down from an opening pool of 37 teams. Two regional preliminary rounds were used to reduce the number of teams in the qualifying groups to 32 which, as usual, played each other in eight mini-tournaments to decide the eight teams who progressed to the final.

http://www.uefa.com/regionscup/history/season=2004/index.html#2005+arroyo+sparks+basque+celebrations

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