|Second Division A - Day 42|
Three sides will be fighting it out for the two remaining promotion spots on Saturday. Numancia and Getafe start with a two point advantage over Alavés coming in to the last day, with five other sides trying to avoid the last two relegation places. One match was brought forward to Friday night, with Salamanca running out 1-2 winners at Elche. Both sides were already safe, and their managers used the occasion to give a run out to their lesser used players. The visitors took the lead in the eighth minute when Zé Tó charged down a clearance by a defender, but Nino levelled the scores two minutes later when he headed home a corner. Jaime got the winner though after the break, running on to beat debutant keeper Diego Arroyo to take his side one point above their opponents in the table. The visitors ended the game with ten men after Raúl Gañan was given a second booking. (11.06.04)
A thrilling last day in the second division, with the final promotion and relegation spots being decided right at the end. As expected, Numancia and Getafe will join Levante in the first division next season after winning their respective matches, leaving Alavés two points adrift despite their victory at Eibar. Numancia only needed a draw against Recreativo to go up, but they were not taking any chances and ran out 2-0 winners in the end. Either side could have scored early on, but the locals took the lead around the half hour mark when Mikel Alonso (brother of Real's Xabi) beat Luque after good work by Rosu (Luque was playing in place of Toño to ensure the first choice keeper won the second division "Zamora" prize). And Rosu himself got the second from a twice-taken penalty in the second half after Juan Carlos Moreno was fouled by Loren. Up to that point Recre had looked most likely to score, but their challenge ended after the goal and the home fans celebrated their second ever promotion to the first division, coming five years to the day since Miguel Angel Lotina took them up.
An incredible game at Tenerife, where Getafe beat the Canary Island side 3-5 to win promotion for the first time in their history. Without doubt the hero of the night was Pachón, who had only come into the side recently due to the injury to Michel. The on loan striker from Valladolid scored all five of his side's goals, including a hat-trick in the first half hour of the match which appeared to have given his team an unassailable lead. The locals got back in the game though with a hotly disputed penalty before the break which Keko converted and a second goal by Hidalgo four minutes after the restart. But only a minute later Pachón beat Enke for a fourth time with a little help from César Belli, and with twelve minutes to go he made sure with a record fifth goal. La Paglia got a late consolation for the locals to round off a high scoring match, but their eleven game unbeaten record was over. Yosu Uribe's side had extended their run since a defeat to 14 matches though, and the 500 visiting fans who made the long trip South were delighted. Madrid will once again have three clubs in the top flight, and to top it all their two closest neighbours were relegated. Oh to be a Getafe fan!
Alavés just missed out on promotion though, their 1-2 victory over neighbours Eibar to no avail in the end. The Vitoria based side started the weekend two points behind Numancia and Getafe, and were hoping that one of them would slip up. Some 3,000 travelling supporters took over the Ipurúa stadium, and they went wild when Palermo set up Rubén Navarro for him to open the scoring in the ninth minute, at which time they were in the first division. But only a minute later news came in that Getafe were in front, and the atmosphere froze over. Navarro, De Lucas and Palermo all missed chances to put their side further ahead either side of half time, but as the news from the other grounds got worse, Gaspercic gave away a penalty on Cuevas for Gorka Brit to drive home the spot kick and end their hopes. Palermo did get a late winner for the visitors five minutes from the end just before Edu Alonso got himself sent off, but by then it was clear that they would have to wait another year. Their total of 74 points would have seen them finish second in the last two seasons, but this year it was just not enough.
As mentioned earlier, whilst Getafe were winning promotion to the top flight, their two neighbours from the South of Madrid, Rayo Vallecano and Leganés, were being relegated. Rayo were always up against it, needing to win and hope for two of their three closest rivals to lose, but in the end they put in another disappointing performance, losing 1-2 at home to already relegated Las Palmas. Txetxu Rojo's side were never in the match, falling behind in the twelfth minute when Mariano collected a pass from Rubén to beat Saja. Luis Cembranos equalised with an individualist effort in the second half, but by then the three teams above them were winning and there was nothing they could do. And Rubén sank them five minutes later, heading home Carmelo's cross for his 22nd goal of the season, consolidating his position as "Pichichi" of the second division. The result takes Las Palmas above their rivals, which could be important if any club is relegated for financial irregularities, and there were ugly scenes after the match as angry fans attacked the players as they were leaving the ground. Could this be the end of an era?
Leganés meanwhile only needed a point against relegation rivals Córdoba to stay up, but a 0-1 defeat left them down and out. The locals were hardly able to get through the Andalucians packed defence, with only an effort from Calandria caused any problems for Jauregui, and Nico Olivera sentenced the match on the stroke of half time when he latched on to Pablo Sierra's cross to chip the ball over keeper Raúl. Olivera and Ramón could have increased the lead after the break, but in the end it wasn't necessary, and for the second year in a row Leganés ended in the bottom four. They can only hope now for a repeat of last season, when they were reinstated after Compostela went down in their place for failing to pay the players' wages. But after Argentine businessman Daniel Grimbank pulled out, they probably don't even have the funds to be able to buy themselves back in again, even if that should happen.
Two southern region sides, Poli Ejido and Ciudad Murcia, saved themselves on the last day with home victories. Poli Ejido won 1-0 against fellow Andalucians Xerez, who although safely in midtable, are one of the clubs who could have problems paying back wages to their players by the end of July deadline. It was a lively game with scoring chances for both sides, but the locals got the edge midway through the first half when Calado beat Doblas with a long shot. The keeper got his own back a few minutes later, saving a penalty from the Portuguese midfielder after Mendoza had brought down David Prats, and Sabino could have made it two had his late strike not been disallowed for a borderline offside.
Ciudad Murcia are also safe after winning 2-0 against bottom club Algeciras. The home side went for broke right from the start, with Güiza failing to beat keeper Julio Iglesias three or four times in the opening minutes. Labaka finally put the fans' hearts at rest with a scrambled goal shortly before half time, and knowing that even a draw was enough provided that Córdoba stayed ahead against Leganés, they slowed the game right down after the break. Robles did get a second goal near the end, but by then they were quite safe, and can look forward to another season in the second division, derby against Real Murcia included.
Leaders Levante celebrated their title with a 4-4 draw at Terrassa, a match played in a festive atmosphere with the Catalans already safe. The first goal didn't come until the half hour mark, when Pinillos headed through his own net trying to clear from Juan Carlos, but a minute later the visitors equalised when Reggi took advantage of a mistake by debutant keeper Caballero to score. Gibanel put the locals ahead after the restart in his last game for the club, but Reggi and Rivera turned the scoreline around before Ismael levelled it again four minutes from the end. There was still time for two more goals though, Reggi completing his hat-trick and Gibanel saving a point with his second goal of the night in injury time.
Sporting shrugged off their disappointment about missing out on promotion with a 1-0 win over Málaga B. With nothing to play for both managers put out sides packed with reserve players, and it was an open game throughout, despite a lack of scoring chances. The only goal came in the eighth minute when Alvaro followed up after Francis pushed out an effort from Rubén, and after that the 13,000 crowd entertained themselves with Mexican waves and general celebrations.
There were festive activities too in the last match of the evening, where Cádiz rounded off an acceptable first season back in the second division with a 2-1 victory against Almería. All three goals came in the second half, with the locals taking the lead through Pablo after Jonathan Sesma put him clear to round the keeper. Carlitos got a second from Víctor García's pass, and Víctor Salas got one back for the visitors from the penalty spot soon afterwards. (19.06.04)