Canaries flying high

A 13-year hiatus from La Liga is finally over for Las Palmas, with the Canary Islanders scraping through the play-offs to earn the final place in next season’s top flight.

Not many would begrudge Los Amarillos of their achievement – they led the table in its formative months until Christmas but an inconsistent run of only four victories in 15 saw them lose the initiative.

Despite finishing fourth, the Canaries won seven points more than Eibar, champions of the previous campaign, netting 24 more goals in the process. Argentine striker Sergio Araujo, on a season-long loan deal from Boca Juniors, netted 23 times and led the frontline superbly, while attacking midfielder Jonathan Viera was another loanee who excelled.

The role of Juan Carlos Valeron is also noteworthy, as, 20 years after making his debut for the club, he was as influential as he was in his prime and controlled the tempo of matches with his calming presence. He rarely wasted a pass.

Las Palmas, like Real Betis and Sporting Gijon, are spurred on by a vociferous home support and earned promotion despite having to negotiate the play-off system.

Having cruelly missed out on promotion in last year’s play-off final against Cordoba on the away goals rule, heartbreak turned to joy this time round as Araujo struck a late winner to overcome Real Zaragoza 2-0, with the away goals rule this time working in their favour. This was after dispatching Real Valladolid in the semi-finals, also via away goals.

Las Palmas are guided by experienced boss Paco Herrera, and their promotion ensures that La Liga will have an island side in the top flight for the first time since 2013, when Real Mallorca dropped down to the second tier.

Their promotion may also be cheered by many neutrals in La Liga, who may be planning an away trip to Gran Canaria next season to visit the impressive Estadio Gran Canaria.