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Almeria take a big step toward joining Villarreal in the Primera

Girona's Montilivi stadium was full of fans in red and white, but it was only the fans who made the trip from Almeria who ended up happy.

Almeria have a leg up to a Primera return after today's win in Girona
Almeria have a leg up to a Primera return after today's win in Girona
Denis Doyle

The first leg of the Segunda promotion final took place today at Montilivi,Girona's lovely little ground. The home side did most of the running in the first half. Almeria seemed content to sit back and defend for the first 20-25 minutes as Girona attacked with gusto, but the visitors were not really troubled all that much.

For all their possession running, and corner kick opportunities, Girona created precious little. After about 25 minutes Almeria decided to push forward more, and Iago Falqué and Corona especially impressed, while Soriano rolled the ball across the face of goal with the keeper beaten, but Charles could not quite get there. The half ended scoreless, Girona having a fairly soft penalty appeal waved away shortly before the break.

In the second half, Girona immediately began surging forward in search of a goal, and that proved to be their undoing. In the 51st minute, from yet another Girona corner, the ball was flicked toward the far post, but was cleared, and only José was back for the home side--the other defenders were caught in the Almeria half. Falqué hit a long pass forward to Charles at midfield; he nodded the ball down to Corona, who returned a pass to Charles. The Brazilian touched the ball past Isaac, and it was 1-0 to Almeria.

The Catalans brought on leading scorer Acuña, Eloi Amagat and Ion Velez, all attacking players, and went to three at the back. Still, in spite of creating lots of corners, and Almeria picking up a number of yellow cards, keeper Esteban in the Almeria net really didn't have a whole lot to do. Meanwhile, Isaac made several excellent saves to keep Girona with a chance.

It has been a good season for Girona, but on this day they didn't look like a Primera side. They huffed and they puffed, but Almeria seldom looked that troubled. Aleix (who was fairly quiet today), Charles, and Falqué provided more quality than their Girona counterparts, and the back four was well organized and never really got pulled out of shape.

The second leg is Saturday, and Girona must win by two clear goals in order to win promotion. They defeated Recre, Xerez and Guadalajara by two-goal margins on the road, but this is going to be a much tougher test. As for Almeria, they have lost four times at home all season. And how many of them were by more than one goal? None.