MADRID (AP) — Girona defeated Eibar in extra time in the semifinals of the Spanish league promotion playoffs on Sunday, setting up a final against Tenerife for the last remaining place in the first division next season.
Borja Garcia scored in the first minute of the game and Cristhian Stuani added to the lead early in extra time to give the visitors a 2-0 win and a 2-1 aggregate victory.
Basque Country club Eibar had won 1-0 in the first leg in Girona. It had needed a victory at last-place Alcorcón on the last day of the regular season to secure an automatic spot in the top flight, but it lost 1-0. It played seven straight years in the first division before being relegated last season.
“We almost made it in Alcorcón. It was really cruel,” Eibar midfielder Edu Expósito said. “We have to thank the fans for their support. It’s sad for them.”
Valladolid, the club owned by former Brazil striker Ronaldo, earned the automatic promotion berth thanks to Eibar’s last-round setback. Almería also was promoted after finishing at the top of the second-division standings.
Girona has been in the second division for 12 of the last 14 seasons, with consecutive appearances in the top flight from 2017-19.
“We never gave up,” Stuani said. “We have been fighting for this the entire year. It’s going to be a competitive final.”
Tenerife, trying to return to the first division for the first time since 2009-10, advanced to the playoffs final by defeating Canary Islands rival Las Palmas 3-1 on aggregate after a 2-1 away win on Saturday. It had won 1-0 in the first leg at home. Las Palmas was trying to make it back to the main tier for the first time since 2017-18.
The two-leg final will begin next weekend, with the first match hosted by Girona in Catalonia and the second by Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
Granada, Levante and Alavés were relegated from the first division this season.
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