Alavés is promoted to the First Division with a penalty in extra time

Villalibre marks the maximum penalty at 129′, decreed at the behest of the VAR, to seal the controversial and agonizing 0-1


Deportivo Alavés achieved promotion to the First Division this Saturday thanks to their 0-1 victory over Levante UD in the second leg of the LaLiga SmartBank playoff final, with a goal scored from a penalty by Asier Villalibre in the added time of extra time, following a handball from Rober Pier in a heart attack outcome.

The former Athletic Club forward marked that maximum penalty with temper, decreed at the request of the VAR after minutes of extremely high tension, to seal the controversial and agonizing victory in a Ciutat de València Stadium that cried after the referee’s final whistle. The ‘granotas’ were left with honey on their lips, having touched joy.

With the Orriols stadium packed, the first half of the match made it clear that there was a lot of tension. The players of both teams were lost in hand protests within their respective rival areas, but the ‘braid’ Francisco José Hernández Maeso did not decree the requested maximum penalties, nor did he even request video arbitration.

The first great opportunity did not come until after half an hour, thanks to a cross from babazorro Rubén Duarte from the left wing. His sending crossed the rival area and on the opposite side the right side Nahuel Tenaglia joined, to finish off heeled; Robert Pier cleared, under the crossbar and almost over the goal line.

Nerves gripped Levante, who had ceded control of the ball to their opponent. This situation did not translate into more danger before the break, but it did immediately start the second act. A few seconds after the activity resumed, Miguel de la Fuente connected a strong shot from the edge, which was repelled by the local goalkeeper.

Luis Rioja, attentive to the rebound, shot with his left foot from close range; Joan Femenías, reacted with speed from the ground and prevented the goal, sending that ball to a corner. The ‘granota’ response was slow to arrive, in Joni Montiel’s boots with a good left-footed shot from the crown of the area; but his shot, at 68 ‘, stumbled on the center-back Aleksandar Sedlar.

The game was livened up with a low shot at 76′ from Roberto Soldado, who had entered the area from the right side, until finishing too cross. In a similar move, but on the other side of the field, Abde Rebbach also sent out a great chance to open the scoring. The refreshment men were thus taking center stage.

However, there were only 10 minutes to go before the end of regulation time, so the two coaches kept bullets in their chambers thinking about extra time. With a timid header, visiting striker Asier Villalibre had the last chance to tip the balance, but Femenías caught that ball without concern.

In the 9′ minute of said extra time, Levante supporter Jorge de Frutos hit the crossbar or a beautiful volley from the front. As a result of a set piece, the left-footed inside of the ‘granotas’ controlled a clearance from Alavés at mid-height and immediately hooked his shot, which made the local parish dream of a favorable outcome.


Nothing could be further from the truth, as Mamadou Sylla has already warned that Alavés would have the last word. Although a shot went very high, in the franchise to score inside the area, the team coached by Luis García Plaza saw its faith rewarded in the final stages, when the entire Levante stadium was dying.

In a desperate corner kick, even visiting goalkeeper Antonio Sivera came up to look for the miracle. He himself headed in a foreshortening without aim, but keeping his team the ball; in a lateral center, and under a noise, Rober Pier hit the ball with his arm in his attempt to get away from the opponent Javi López.

Hernández Maeso, who had a run-in with Sivera himself, stopped the game and stretched out time, to the chagrin of the Valencian fans. After consulting several repetitions on the VAR screen, and despite the gigantic protests of the ‘granotas’ footballers, the referee saw Pier’s hand inside the area and signaled that penalty.

The illusion turned into disappointment for the Ciutat de València in the last play of the last minute of the last game of the 2022/23 academic year. Another controversial hand, the umpteenth of this long campaign, was what settled the party on the side of Vitoria. Villalibre, signed by Alavés last January, transformed that maximum penalty to certify visiting glory.


–RESULT: LEVANTE, 0 – ALAVÉS, 1. (0-0, at halftime).


LEVANTE: Women; Pubill, Vezo (Postizo, min.111), Rober Pier, Muñoz; Montiel (Ibáñez, min.90+2), Iborra, Pepelu, De Frutos (Son, min.111); Bouldini (Soldado, min.62) and Brugué (Wesley, min.58).

ALAVES: Sivera; Tenaglia (Jason, min.98), Abqar, Sedlar, Duarte (Javi López, min.91); Alkain (Rebbach, min.63), Benavidez, Guridi (Panichelli, min.85; Sylla, min.106), Rioja; De la Fuente (Moya, min.70) and Villalibre.


0-1, min.120+9: Villalibre.

–REFEREE: Hernández Maeso (C. Extremadura). He yellow carded Montiel (min.90+1), Pepelu (min.97), Iborra (min.105+6) and Soldado (min.105+6) in Levante, and also Duarte (min.20 ), Panichelli (min.100), Abqar (min.112), Benavidez (min.114), Sivera (min.120+3) at Alavés; he sent off Laguardia with a direct red card (min.120 + 9) at Alavés.

— STADIUM: Ciutat de Valencia, 22,919 spectators.