A new format this season for the second division, with the third promotion spot to be decided in a play-off round between the teams ranked third to sixth (actually this season fourth to seventh, as third placed Barcelona B were ineligible for promotion). Ties will be decided on a knock-out basis, with semi-finals and a final played over two legs.
Celta and Granada were the first to kick off the semi-finals on Wednesday night, with the Galicians taking a slight edge for Saturday's second leg thanks to a 1-0 victory. Paco Herrera's team were looking for a return to the top flight after a four year absence, although their season has gone off the boil in recent weeks after occupying the automatic promotion spots for much of the year. Granada though have been on a roll recently, and they are keen to return to the big time after winning promotion from the second division B only last year. The visitors got off to the better start, with Dani Benítez in particular causing some problems for the local defence. De Lucas and Trashorras brought good saves out of Roberto though before the break, and both went close again after the restart as Celta continued to push forward. It was only though with all substitutions completed that they made the breakthrough, Michu getting on the end of a Hugo Mallo cross to score with a quarter of an hour to go. The Andalusians realized too late that they were behind, and although Lucena and Collantes tried their luck after that, Yoel and his defence held fast for the important clean sheet. (08.06.11)
A similar score in the second semi-final, with Valladolid going in to the return leg with a 1-0 advantage over Elche. Abel Resino's side are looking for a quick return to the top flight after going down last season, and Carpio had to clear off the line from Javi Guerra in the tenth minute. Nauzet and Guerra both tested Jaime later in the first half, and Nauzet fired a shot just wide of the mark a couple of minutes after the restart. And with an hour on the clock the pressure paid off when Guerra got above the defence to head Barragán's cross down past the keeper. Elche (who last appeared in the first division in 1989) had little left in the tank after that, and any hopes they had of saving a result ended when Héctor Verdés was sent off for a second bookable offence with five minutes to go. All is not lost for them though, and everything is set up for an exciting second leg in the Martínez Valero stadium on Sunday. (09.06.11)