Szymon Jaskulowski's header deep into extra time ensured Poland's Dolnoslaski AMA claimed the UEFA Regions' Cup in a tense final against Bulgarian hosts South-East Region AMA.
Cheered on by 3,500 fans in Sliven, a finals record for this competition, South-East Region had dominated early on in an uncommonly hot evening and took the lead midway through the second half through Plamen Stoyanov. But Michał Sudoł soon equalised with a free-kick and through another set up substitute Jaskulowski to turn in the winner, meaning for the second tournament running a Bulgarian side finished runners-up.
Tencho Georgiev, taking the South-East Region armband from suspended captain Boris Galchev, was partnering Plamen Stoyanov up front and with Asen Valchev and Aleksandar Georgiev in support, the Bulgarian forward line threatened from the off. Georgiev shot into the side-netting after a Valchev cross, then on 14 minutes Plamen Stoyanov was just unable to find Georgiev in front of goal.
Dolnoslaski's first chance came shortly afterwards when Mariusz Sadowski let fly from distance and shot narrowly over, but most of the play was at the other end. After a Kostadin Stoyanov block tackle that won a spontaneous ovation, South-East Region broke and won a free-kick, which resulted in left-winger Emanuil Borisov finding Valchev with an accurate cross, but the midfielder headed over.
From Borisov's centre Plamen Stoyanov turned the ball fractionally wide and it had certainly proved a tough half for Dolnoslaski, whose defence was bolstered by the return of towering captain Adrian Szymczak from suspension but hindered by a ban to Dariusz Zalewski. However, Tomasz Góral did worry Bulgarian goalkeeper Ivaylo Marinov with a strike from distance.
The Polish side began the second half brightly and Sudoł had a free-kick deflected wide. Dolnoslaski forward Jaskulowski came off the bench and produced a searing run down the left, though was dispossessed, and Jarosław Gad also arrived and jinked through the Bulgarian defence but shot wide. Soon afterwards the hosts were ahead, as Georgiev's perfectly-weighted free-kick was turned in by the head of Plamen Stoyanov.
Valchev nearly doubled the lead soon after with a rising shot that flew past the far post. But the home advantage disappeared with 12 minutes to go as Gad dummied a free-kick on the edge of the box and Sudoł shot low past the wall and Marinov. Dolnoslaski goalkeeper Krzysztof Czerniak was tested by an effort from substitute Nikolai Boyadjieev while at the other end another replacement Arkadiusz Półchłpek shot over for the Polish representatives with normal time running out.
In the first period of extra time, Czerniak made good saves from a Georgiev free-kick and inswinging Valchev corner, while Półchłpek dribbled past the home defence but shot wide. It seemed that penalties would be the outcome, but with six minutes remaining Dolnoslaski won a free-kick on the left and Sudoł and Jaskulowski ensured Europe’s amateur crown went to Poland.
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