The Senegalese forward was among the scorers as the White and Reds secured a comfortable win over the visiting Rojiblancos
Mamadou Sylla was on target as Girona defeated Almeria 3-0 in the first-leg semi-final La Liga Smartbank play-off on Wednesday night.
Goals from Edgar Barcenas and Yan Couto had given the hosts a bright start into the encounter before the Senegalese striker sealed the win 25 minutes from time.
Unbeaten in their last two games in all competitions, Rojiblancos traveled to the Estadi Montilivi with the ambition of extending their fine run – which would brighten their chances of a La Liga return.
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However, they were silenced by the rampant hosts who are yet to lose any of their last eight outings.
Girona began the fixture like a house on fire as they raced to the lead three minutes after kick-off.
Profiting from lethargic defending from Rubi’s men, Barcenas headed Gerard Gumbau’s well-taken free-kick past goalkeeper Giorgi Makaridze.
While the visitors were trying to bounce back from that early setback, they were hit with the second strike two minutes later.
In another piece of shambolic defending, Couto tucked the ball past a stranded Makaridze after being teed up in the box by Sylla.
That was a reality check for Almeria who settled into the game quickly and tried very hard to reduce their deficit.
Despite taking control of ball possession, they were unlucky in front of goal as goalkeeper Juan Carlos thwarted all their efforts.
For Francisco Vilchez’s side, they looked relaxed and rarely pushed further for more goals. Instead, they sat back defending while relying on counter-attacks.
Almeria appeared stronger in the second half and they almost pulled a goal back in the 59th minute, however, Jose Carlos Lazo could not catch up with Largie Ramazani’s cross.
In the 65th minute, Sylla put the game beyond the Andalusian side after drilling home from close range thanks to an assist from Barcenas.
That effort was his 10th strike in 37 league outings in the 2020-21 campaign. After featuring for 88 minutes, he was subbed off for Pablo Moreno. whereas, Malian midfielder Ibrahima Kebe was introduced for Gerard Gumbau four minutes after the hour mark.
On the other hand, Nigeria international Umar Sadiq was in action from start to finish, albeit, he could do little in preventing his team from going down.
The return leg on Saturday, will see the winners on aggregate qualifying for the final where they battle Leganes or Rayo Vallecano for a place in the Spanish elite division.