"All San Marino should be proud of them," said coach Pier Angelo Manzaroli after the 1-0 win against Wales. "It was an extraordinary feeling," added scorer Juri Biordi.
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Two months after SP Tre Penne became the first team from San Marino to win a UEFA club competition game, another piece of history was written when Pier Angelo Manzaroli's side beat Wales 1-0 in a UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifier.
Juri Biordi's first-half goal in Serravalle earned San Marino their first three points in Group 1 but also the first competitive victory over 90 minutes of any Sammarinese national team since a 2-1 U17 success against Andorra in 2002. "It was an extraordinary feeling," Bordi told UEFA.com. "Even better than the game against Lithuania [a 2-1 defeat in June] when I scored the equaliser. Scoring in front of our fans was simply fantastic, even more so now I know my goal got us the win."
San Marino had made a U21 breakthrough of sorts when they secured a 0-0 draw with Greece in June 2012 – their first point at this age group barring 3-0 forfeit wins versus Sweden and Armenia in 2003 and 2006. However, Friday's triumph against Wales was their first U21 success over 90 minutes. "We made history and all the players deserve credit," said coach Manzaroli. "This is a fantastic group. The great desire of my players, the way we prepared tactically for this game and a bit of luck helped us earn this amazing result."
His side remain bottom of qualifying Group 1, but San Marino's statistics are something to be proud of given their modest circumstances; they have conceded just six goals in four outings and have scored twice. "Considering who we are and our past results, nobody would have predicted such statistics for us at the start of this campaign," Manzaroli said. "I want to thank the boys because they are working really hard. The whole of San Marino should be proud of them."
No novice as a miracle worker, the 44-year-old former midfielder coached the AC Libertas team that drew 1-1 with Irish club Drogheda United FC in a 2007/08 UEFA Cup game and also led a San Marino side through the preliminary round of the 2008/09 UEFA Regions Cup before guiding the U21s to that stalemate against Greece. "I have been lucky enough to coach players who wanted to fulfil their ambitions with all their hearts," he explained. "If you add a bit of technique and tactics to that, you can achieve incredible results, as we did today."