Villarreal scores promotion back to Spain's La Liga
Associated Press in Villarreal, Spain
Villarreal sealed its promotion to Spain’s top division after beating Almeria 1-0 on Saturday.
Villarreal will return to the top flight after spending one season in the second division, which it finished in second place behind the already promoted Elche.
Almeria, Girona, Alcorcon, and Las Palmas will play a two-round playoff with the winner also going up.
Forward Jonathan Pereira scored the winner in the 56th minute. A long pass from Ruben “Cani” Garcia found Pereira behind Almeria’s high defensive line and he fired beyond the goalkeeper.
Almeria, which needed a win to move past Villarreal and finish runner-up, bossed the first half but went no closer than Fernando Soriano’s shot off the post in the 21st.
Villarreal captain Marcos Senna went on as a substitute just before the final whistle and was tossed in the air by his teammates after their overjoyed home fans invaded the pitch at El Madrigal Stadium.
“This is huge,” said Marcos Senna, a 37-year-old midfielder and former Spain international. “I had said that I didn’t want to retire in the second division and that has come true.”
Before celebrating its promotion, Villarreal held a short homage for Manolo Preciado, its coach who died of a heart attack a year ago one day after being hired by the club.