• Stjarnan claim their first title on last day of Icelandic Premier League season
• Ólafur Karl Finsen keeps cool to convert 92nd-minute winner in dramatic finale
• The visitors triumph 2-1 at a Hafnarfjördur team that started the day top
• Stjarnan have captain Veigar Páll Gunnarsson sent off before the hour
• Coach Rúnar Páll Sigmundsson says European campaign opened their eyes
Stjarnan are Icelandic champions for the first time after overcoming FH Hafnarfjördur in a thrilling end to the season, despite playing the last 31 minutes with ten men.
Knowing only a win would do, the game looked up for the visitors when, not long after skipper Veigar Páll Gunnarsson was red carded, Steve Lennen cancelled out Ólafur Karl Finsen's first-half strike. FH, who began the day top of the table, were soon under great pressure in a packed stadium, but they resisted and at the death they won a penalty. With the whole season riding on it, Finsen kept his cool to earn a famous win.
"Even when we went a man down my belief we would step up was stronger than ever," Finsen said. "This season was perfect, apart from the cup but then if that had continued it would have impacted on our European adventure so that was alright. European participation was great for us, to play against big clubs with world class players you automatically step up and that improved us."
Stjarnan battled through to the UEFA Europa League play-offs before coming up against the might of FC Internazionale Milano and bowing out with head held high and praise from the government. On Saturday they eclipsed even that, a remarkable achievement for a team that were hanging grimly onto second division status only eight years ago. They have made steady progress ever since, though, finishing Icelandic Cup runners-up in 2012 and 2013.
"This has been an unbelievable summer whichever way you look at it," coach Rúnar Páll Sigmundsson said. "Participation in UEFA competition helped us a lot. We had no idea what we were going into, met some good teams and got some good results which opened our eyes. We saw we could do good things, our confidence grew and that brought us the title today. Almost all of our players will stay on so we expect to carry on."
Stjarnan, who ended the season unbeaten, pipped FH by a point.
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|Last updated: 22/08/2019 13:21 CET|