Giants awaken: Deportivo La Coruna earn promotion back to Segunda on the back of fairytale goal

Sleeping giants Deportivo La Coruna awoke on Sunday evening, as they secured promotion back to Segunda following a four-year absence from Spain’s top two divisions with victory over Barca Atletic at Riazor. Albeit there was little lethargy on the Galician coast, with a raucous atmosphere.

It was their longest spell in Spain’s third tier in their history, and was the culmination of financial ruin that saw them relegated down two divisions in the space of three seasons, having won La Liga two decades earlier in 2000.

Their 1-0 win came courtesy of 35-year-old former Arsenal striker Lucas Perez, who paid around half a million euros out of his own pocket to return to his boyhood club from Cadiz 18 months ago, dropping two divisions in the process. He promised to bring Deportivo up, and a year later than expected, he scored the league-winning goal.

“I came to help. I am very happy to see A Coruna like this, very happy to return to professional football with Deportivo; it is joyous. When you have the excitement of returning home you always imagine that beautiful things will happen. It’s amazing to see the atmosphere and make people happy,” he told Relevo.

“To the fans I can only say that thank you very much for everything you have given me and blessed me with. I hope that we are very happy, that they bring us great satisfaction at Dépor and that we can all enjoy them together,” Perez said, although he did admit that he was unsure of his future, with his contract up at the end of the season.

Perez scored 12 goals and gave 17 assists in his 30 appearances this season, leading the way in spite of his age. It’s a historic season for Depor too, who have nearly 28,500 season ticket holders this season, their highest ever even during the glory years of La Liga and Copa del Rey wins, with the stadium holding 32,490 fans.

Barca Atletic go into their final two games against third-place Nastic and fourth-place Celta Fortuna, hoping to maintain their play-off spot and second place. Manager Rafael Marquez said he was pleased with how they competed against a formidable Depor side who are now 17 games unbeaten, despite some controversial refereeing. In particular, 17-year-old Marc Bernal stood out at the base of midfield, fuelling hope that he might be a long-term answer in the position for Barcelona, following an excellent performance.

Deportivo’s return to Segunda will be welcomed by many, as one of Spain’s strongest forces at the beginning of the 21st century. It brings the prospect of the Galician derby closer too, a keenly felt rivalry that has only been stoked by several victories from Celta’s B team (Fortuna) over Depor’s senior side.

Tags Barca Atletic Cadiz Deportivo La Coruna Lucas Perez Marc Bernal Segunda

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