Girona close in on Champions League with Las Palmas win

AFP , Saturday 27 Apr 2024

Girona took another stride towards Champions League football next season with a 2-0 win at Las Palmas on Saturday in La Liga.

Girona
Girona players celebrate after scoring a goal during the match with Las Palmas on Saturday 27 April, 2024. Photo: Girona.

 

David Lopez and top scorer Artem Dovbyk's goals helped the Catalan minnows climb provisionally second, above neighbours and champions Barcelona, who face Valencia on Monday.

Girona trail league leaders Real Madrid by 13 points, having fallen away in the title race, but they have rallied to set their sights on a top-four finish.

Michel Sanchez's side are 13 points ahead of fifth place Athletic Bilbao, who face Atletico Madrid, fourth, later Saturday.

Remarkably Girona are only in the Spanish top flight for the fourth season in the club's history.

"(Reaching the Champions League would be historic) not just for the club, but for Spanish football in general," said Lopez.

"What we are doing is insane... we're trying to enjoy it, to do the best we can to make history."

Depending on other results, Girona may be able to secure qualification next weekend when Barcelona visit Montilivi.

Las Palmas started strongly and Girona goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga saved an early penalty from former Barcelona striker Sandro Ramirez, after Lopez fouled Alberto Moleiro.

Girona took the lead after 26 minutes, earning a penalty of their own when Eric Garcia was pulled back at a corner just as he was shaping to shoot.

Although Dovbyk's soft spot kick was saved by Alvaro Valles, Lopez was on hand to smash the rebound into the roof of the net.

The rest of the half was scrappy, with neither side able to take charge in the Canary Island sun.

Dovbyk doubled Girona's lead in the 57th minute when he was given another chance from the spot when Yan Couto was fouled.

The Ukrainian striker this time blasted past Valles, who went the right way but could not keep out Dovbyk's 19th league goal of the campaign -- two more than Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham.

Moleiro crashed a long-range effort against the crossbar in the final stages but Las Palmas, 13th, could not mount a comeback despite creating chances against the tiring visitors.

Despite starting the season superbly, Las Palmas have now fallen to six consecutive defeats and are winless in nine.

"The only way to turn it around is together, is to keep going, never let our heads drop," said Ramirez.

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