SD Eibar's Gaizka Garitano said he was "proud to coach these players" after the Liga debutants defeated neighbours Real Sociedad de Fútbol 1-0.
A stunning free-kick from midfielder Javi Lara on the stroke of half-time was the difference between the teams, although the hosts had to endure a late onslaught from La Real. Garitano was hugely impressed with his players' performance.
"I had hoped we could take the game to them, and that we might even win, and that's what we have done," he said. "Apart from a short while, when they launched attack after attack, we had the game under control."
Eibar came out of the blocks quicker than their more prestigious opponents and had several opportunities to take the lead before Lara's thunderbolt, but Garitano was particularly pleased with how his side protected their advantage in the second half. "It's vital that we defend well," he said. "If we don't, we won't have a chance in the Liga. If we defend well, then we have every chance of surviving."
Despite the win, the coach also recognised his charges have work to do on their fitness levels, admitting: "We were running out of steam towards the end of the game, we need a couple of weeks to get into shape."
Sunday's win against La Real, who are in this season's UEFA Europa League play-offs, was the culmination of two extraordinary years for the humble club, whose Ipurua stadium holds just 5,250 spectators. A former Real Sociedad midfielder, Garitano, 39, started coaching Eibar's B squad after hanging up his boots in 2009 and eventually took charge of the first team at the start of the 2012/13 season.
He had an immediate impact, leading the club to promotion to the Segunda Liga. Eibar then excelled in their first campaign back in the second tier for four years, sealing promotion with two weeks to spare and then being crowned champions on the final day.
Garitano's men are the pride of the 27,000 inhabitants of Eibar – the smallest city to have a team in the modern history of the Liga – but the coach insisted neither he nor his players had any fear about their first match among the Spanish elite. "I told them to enjoy this day and be themselves," he said. "I'm so proud to coach these players."
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