"This is the best thing going," said Veneto's Francesco Gasparato after his side had beaten Selección Catalana on penalties to win the 2013 UEFA Regions' Cup. "But tomorrow, we return to our normal lives, back to work on Monday, but certainly with a bigger smile."
The 2013 amateur finals featured some of the strongest teams to have played in the UEFA Regions' Cup, with Veneto and Selección Catalana both worthy finalists. However, their final meeting was something of an endurance test for all concerned; 120 minutes produced no goals and one red card, for Veneto's Alberto Mantovani. In the shoot-out, Albert Vivo missed the target for the Spanish representatives, setting up captain Paolo Gagno to blast the winning spot-kick as Veneto reclaimed the trophy they had won when the region staged the first finals in 1999.
Abano Terme, Piove di Sacco, Bagnoli di Sopra and Este were the four venues for the finals, which brought together teams from Northern Ireland, Hungary, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Russia and Belarus as well as the two final contenders. Six teams were to go into the final day of group stage games with a chance of reaching the final – a measure, perhaps, of the high standard in this edition.
Fabrizio Toniutto's Veneto had the only 100% group stage record, beating Northern Ireland's Eastern Region (4-1), Azerbaijan's Qarachala and Hungary's Keleti Régió (both 1-0) to make it to the final. Lively striker Franco Ballarini scored four of their goals in Group A, but was conspicuous by his absence in the final, having triggered a suspension with a booking in Veneto's final group game.
Toni Almendros's powerful Selección Catalana were always favourites to join Veneto in the decider, but after following up a 2-0 win against Isloch of Belarus with a 2-2 draw against Bulgaria's Yugoiztochen Region, they had to beat Olimp Moscow of Russia 1-0 in their final fixture to secure their place.
Runners-up in their respective groups, Keleti Régió and Isloch both received bronze medals.
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