Real Mallorca were robbed of a point late on against Deportivo La Coruña on Monday night, when Basque referee Fernando Gorostegui pointed to the spot after no more than a coming-together which involved our centre half Martin Valjent and Depor’s Nahuel and was deemed a penalty offence. It was never a penalty in a million years; Valjent clearly won the ball. Reina almost saved the resultant penalty but was beaten by the pace of the shot.
The first half belonged to the home team who, in front of their lowest crowd of the season, had most of the possession. Their goal attempts never really troubled Manolo Reina, although on the stroke of half time he pulled off a wonder save to keep us in the game. On the anniversary of the day when Mallorca celebrated their promotion from Segunda B last year, we needed just a point to secure a play-off place and for long periods our defence stood firm against a pretty weak Depor attack. Players continuously slipped on an over-watered surface that received another soaking at half time. The conditions didn’t help our dribblers Lago Junior and Aridai, who were constantly on the floor.
Depor had their goalkeeper Dani Gimenez, who performed heroics, to thank for a couple of snap interventions from Budimir before the break. In the second half the change was unbelievable. Mallorca became the team creating all the problems, while Depor, who had played the first half at 100 kilometres an hour, began to tire. The islanders started to dominate, pushing the home side further and further back; Gimenez made two great saves to keep the Galicians in the game. Ten minutes into the second half and an inoperative Aridai was replaced by fans’ favourite Abdon Prats. With his first touch he set up Budimir and his goal-bound effort produced a brilliant save from Gimenez. Alex Lopez then came on for a tiring Budimir as it looked likely that Mallorca were prepared for a draw and that vital one play-off point. Mallorca’s Marc Pedraza went down with cramp and limped off to be replaced by the more productive Baba.
With a minute to go, it was hands-on-head time. Mallorca pushed forward at pace and a clearcut chance was blasted over from Estupiñan. Then, out of nothing, the referee reckoned Valjent had fouled Nahuel in the area and pointed to the spot. To say the award was rigorous is an understatement. Carlos Fernandez just squeezed in the penalty and Mallorca had been robbed at the death. There wasn’t even time to kick off. Depor had performed the perfect smash and grab raid.
The next game at home to Granada on Sunday has taken on added significance. Granada need to win to return to La Liga and Real Mallorca need to win to book a place in the play-offs.