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20 Aug 2020
© PressEye James McLaughlin celebrates his late winner with his Coleraine team mates
James McLaughlin struck in the closing moments of normal time to help Coleraine to victory over La Fiorita at The Showgrounds and with it a place in the next round of the Europa League.
With 89 minutes on the clock, and the game scoreless and heading to extra-time, McLaughlin got on the end of a long ball over the top from Aaron Canning to send a sublime right-foot finish past keeper Gianluca Vivan into the corner of the net.
It was no less than what the Bannsiders deserved for their efforts, although they were at times made to work for the win over their Sammarinese opponents.
Early chances from Curtis Allen and Ben Doherty helped Oran Kearney's settle into the game while Josh Carson went close midway through the first half with a low, drilled effort from an Aaron Traynor delivery which the alert Vivan did well to keep out.
La Fiorita almost went in at the break in front, however, when Armando Amati sent over a cross to the far post for the onrushing Danilo Rinaldi but he just failed to make contact.
And the visitors had another opportunity just before the hour, this time through Lucio Peluso when his cross caused some anxiety for keeper Gareth Deane but, luckily for Coleraine, Canning was on hand to deal with the loose ball.
But Coleraine always looked much more likely to open the scoring, almost managing it midway through the second half when McLaughlin was denied by a superb reaction stop from Vivan, while Stephen O'Donnell nodded the resultant corner just wide.
The Bannsiders did manage to get the ball in the net with around a quarter-of-an-hour left, but Aaron Jarvis' header at the back post from a corner was ruled out after the referee spotted an infringement in the box.
Kearney's charges are now off to Slovenia to face NK Maribor in the First Qualifying Round next Thursday.
Coleraine: Deane, Kane, Canning, Jarvis, Doherty, Lowry, McLaughlin, Carson, O'Donnell, Traynor, Allen subs Gallagher (not used), Douglas (not used), Bradley (replaced Allen 62), Tweed (not used), Parkhill (not used), Nixon (replaced Carson 46), McGuckin (not used)
La Fiorita: Vivan, Brighi, Di Maio, Damiano, Errico, Loiodice, Grandoni, Rinaldi, Peluso, Gasperoni, Amati subs Venturini (not used), Miori (not used), Pancotti (not used), Guidi (replaced Errico 65), Mularoni (replaced Peluso 79), Zafferani (not used), Pieri (replaced Damiano 73)