Fans invade the pitch to celebrate with players at the final whistle. :: JOSELE-LANZA
Marbella will be playing in the third tier of Spanish football for the first time in four years after they battled against Eldense in a match rife with drama.
After the losing the fist leg 1-0, Marbella needed a victory to be promoted and it was not until the end of extra time that they had the tie won.
The visitors looked like being victorious after holding the game to a draw; Marbella players looked nervous and Eldense had the best of the opening chances.
The decisive moment came in the 89th minute. The Eldense goalkeeper, Alberto, charged off his line and handled the ball outside the area. He was given a second yellow card and with all three substitutes made, left full-back Pagán put on the gloves stepped into goal.
Añón took the resulting free kick and Airam’s header bounced in off the crossbar sending the match to extra time.
With ten players and a makeshift goalkeeper, Eldense somehow were the better team in the first half of injury time. They had two clear chances to put themselves level. But it was Pibe who scored a solo effort to double Marbella’s lead.
The team held their advantage for just 20 seconds. Centre midfielder Chupe struck the ball past Reina and into the top corner to shock the home support.
At 2-1 Eldense would have been promoted given the away goals rule. Then in a final twist Marbella were awarded a penalty in the 127th minute in spite of the Eldense protests. The team’s top scorer, Añón, stepped up to take the most important kick of his life. He sent the replacement keeper the wrong way, sealing the win and sending the Estadio Municipal into party mode.
At the final whistle fans invaded the pitch to celebrate with players, while the referee had to be escorted down the tunnel by security as the away players were still fuming from the penalty decision. The celebrations lasted for over an hour as Marbella will now be joining El Palo in Group 4 of the Segunda División.
Marbella manager, Jaime Molina, was ecstatic following the result and told his players “the dream that we had ten months ago you have made a reality”. In the centre of the pitch half an hour after the end of the match, the manager embraced and congratulated each member of his squad.
The club’s Russian owner, Alexander Grinberg, expressed his desire to return Marbella to the elite of Spanish football: “We want to establish ourselves in the Segunda B, but little by little we will focus on winning promotion again. As we say in Russia, which soldier doesn’t want to be a general?” He also revealed that both Molina and Loren will continue in their roles.