Elche CF 2-2 At Bilbao
The celebrations in the Martínez Valero stadium began rather prematurely on Saturday afternoon, even before the Huesca match was over, but with 2 added minutes of the Catalans game against Valencia still to unwind, Fran Escriba’s men were sure that they had defied the odds once again, and their 2-0 victory over Atletic Bilbao was enough to book their place in LaLiga for another season.
But moments later, as news filtered through of the final 0-0 scoreline at Estadio El Alcoraz, the franjiverdes, were finally able to celebrate with their 5,000 fans, as Fran Escribá, the man who just 12 months ago had worked the miracle of promotion, did it all over again, to ensure that Elche will continue in the First Division.
Elche had done all that it could in defeating Athletic with the Huesca draw against Valencia allowing it to seal it’s permanency.
It was an afternoon of tension and emotions, but hard work, perseverance and confidence, together with the fact that all the stars seemed aligned in favour of the franjiverdes, have allowed Elche and its long-suffering fans to enjoy yet another season in the League of the Stars.
Escribá said on Friday that this game was going to be played by the whole city. He was absolutely right. It wasn’t just the fans who encouraged from the stands. On the half hour, one of the ball boys quickly caught a ball that went out of play, handed it to Fidel, the man from Huelva was alive to the situation as he set Pere Milla off at full speed.
He surprised the Athletic defense, the Catalan then found himself in the area and squared a pass to Lucas Boyé who stabbed the ball to the back of the net. Peace of mind at 1-0 as the first and most important step had been taken.
The second half was much as the first, everything playing out according to the script and it was necessary to wait until the 72nd minute when Raúl Guti, with a masterful shot from outside the area, hit the back of the net to double the Elche lead.
Elche’s work was done and the centre of attention moved to Huesca.
There was a disallowed goal from Rafa Mir. But destiny was written. El Alcoraz’s scoreboard did not move and the 0-0 draw allowed Elche and Escribá to rewrite the history of the Elche club in gold letters. The franjiverdes will illuminate the Martínez Valero again next season in the First Division.
Images: Elche CF Facebook