SP Tre Penne will have to wait another year for their next European action but spirits are high as they savour becoming the first club from San Marino to win a UEFA game.
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SP Tre Penne goalkeeper Federico Valentini has been savouring a double celebration after ending a week that began with him becoming a dad by playing a key role as a team from San Marino won a UEFA club competition game for the first time.
The 31-year-old made a host of good saves on Tuesday as Tre Penne held on to claim a famous 1-0 victory over Armenian title holders FC Shirak in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round. It was not enough to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit, but it nonetheless earned special place in the nation's football history. "It is hard to fathom," admitted coach Marco Protti. "But we really have done it."
It has been a long time coming. S.S. Folgore became the first team from the oldest republic in the world to represent San Marino in Europe back in 2000 and Tre Penne's previous three ties brought six defeats; this time, though, they never looked back after Samuel Kyere's opener inside two minutes. "We had some lucky moments, like scoring early," admitted Protti. "However, we did well limiting our opponents and now we can celebrate."
His goalkeeper did more than most, inspired by the newest arrival to the Valentini household. "I want to dedicate this victory to my wife and my son," said the Sammarinese international. "A few days ago I became a father and now comes this great satisfaction at sporting level. I'm extremely happy." Tre Penne captain Enrico Cibelli echoed the sentiment, adding: "It's an incredible result, reward for all the work we have done over the last few years. A victory in Europe, in the Champions League – it is a dream for us."