Late June during a World Cup summer might seem an unusual time to be catching up on Chelsea loanees but the 2013-14 club season in Spain extended well into the summer as two Blues youngsters went in search of promotion. The playoffs in both the Segunda Division and the remarkably unforgiving Segunda B structure called for a long and tiring schedule, but one which ultimately successful in both cases.
For Uli Dávila and Córdoba, there could not have been a more dramatic ending to their season’s work. A final day draw at home to Real Mallorca secured a seventh-placed finish in the table but that was good enough for backdoor entry into the playoffs with Barcelona B finishing third; the Catalan juniors not eligible to compete for promotion to play alongside their senior counterparts.
Albert Ferrer’s men took full advantage by eliminating Murcia to line up a two-legged final with Las Palmas, and may have thought their chance had gone when their home leg finished scoreless. A big effort was required for the return leg in Gran Canaria and indeed Córdoba were 1-0 down with ninety seconds left on the clock. However, home supporters mistook a referee’s whistle for one signalling full time and prematurely invaded the pitch to begin celebrations.
When things had been calmed down and the pitch cleared of the unwanted visitors, this happened:
The Mexican’s seventh goal in green and white was the most important of his entire career to date as it secured a return to Spain’s top table for the first time in 42 years with Ferrer leading the club to the promised land in just his second managerial job (following a brief and forgettable stay at Vitesse).
Segunda B outfit Leganés will scoff at the ease of it all. To escape from the murky depths of a regional stage incorporating 81 teams they had to finish amongst the top four in their group before negotiating a seemingly endless string of playoff ties. Uruguayan forward Pírez – who is set to cut ties with Chelsea next month – hasn’t always been a regular in the team but played his part here and there as Guijuelo, Lleida Esportiu and finally L’Hospitalet were seen off to send Lega back to Spain’s second tier after a decade away.
It ties up all of the remaining loose ends for this season’s #loanwatch but with Tomas Kalas already heading to Köln in the Bundesliga, 2014-15 promises to be another busy one here at TheChels.net.