There will be a far less well known name in the Superliga next season after Club Atlético Central Córdoba from the northern city of Santiago del Estero claimed a dramatic penalty win over Sarmiento de Junín to return to the top flight for the first time in 48 years.
In 1971 the Campeonato Nacional provided an opportunity for several regional sides to play top flight football and Central Córdoba benefitted from that before spending the best part of the last half century in the lower tiers. Finishing sixth in this year’s Primera B Nacional, Central Córdoba had the chance of a return via the playoffs and on Saturday came up against a Sarmiento side, who had been unfortunate to lose a title playoff against Arsenal after actually finishing top on goal difference.
That nine-point difference from the regular season didn’t matter when the two sides met in Junín on Saturday after last weekend’s 1-1 draw. With no away goals rule there was no advantage but Sarmiento on home soil were confident of securing their relatively swift return to the Superliga.
Centre forward Nicolás Orsini hitting the crossbar after quarter of an hour came within a whisker of giving Sarmiento the lead and the same player would waste another glorious chance early in the second half when one-on-one with goalkeeper César Taborda.
Having wasted those chances it ended goalless and promotion would be decided at the penalty spot.
Diego Jara smashed in the first for Central Córdoba and it set in motion a perfect shootout for El Ferroviario. Goalkeeper Taborda saved from Franco Leys with his legs midway through and so when Alfredo Ramírez found the top corner with the fifth and final penalty, Central Córdoba had done it.
How long the side from Santiago del Estero can stay in the top flight remains to be seen but the jubilant celebrations showed just how much it meant to the club and Central Córdoba will be a welcome addition to the Superliga.