After a weekend when it looks like there?s only one more Brexit delay until Christmas (!) ? the unsung heroes of Real Mallorca, put together on a shoestring budget, produced one of the greatest nights in the Son Moix?s 19 year history when, in front of 20,275 fans, they defeated La Liga juggernauts Real Madrid 1-0 on Saturday night.
Wild celebrations of biblical proportions followed the win with cars (those that could get out of the car park before midnight !) driving round the city with horns blasting out. This was no smash and grab raid by the islanders, who won with a tenacious display full of guts and energy. Our defence was tight and our midfield industrious and positive, in beating ?Los Blancos? in Palma for the first time in La Liga since 2006. A brilliantly despatched curved solo effort in the sixth minute from Lago Junior proved to be the undoing of the swaggering Madrid giants who, apart from a Benzema effort which hit the bar, never looked like bulging the home onion bag.
Lago received a pass from the ?titchy? Aleix Febas just inside our half, and the Ivorian set off on a mission leaving two players in his wake. Heading towards the Madrid goal, he momentarily checked before hitting a curved shot like an unstoppable missile past a helpless Thibaut Courtois to bring a full house to its feet. What a brilliant goal that was, 1-0. A few weeks ago he was being lambasted for a string of inept performances yet on Sunday he was our man of the match in three publications ? it?s a funny old game! Suddenly the Madrid players and their many fans in the Son Moix knew they had a game on, could they respond ? the answer, ?simples,? NO!
Lago continued to torment the visiting defence and full back Odriozola had a nightmare game trying to control him, eventually losing the plot, seeing red mist and off he went in the 73rd minute for first squeeze of the loofah!
The last 10 minutes of the game was like the Battle of Rorke?s Drift (look it up on Google) as Real Madrid tried in vain to snaffle an equaliser. I said in Saturday?s column that the only way we could get something out of this game would be if we got stuck in and didn?t allow Real Madrid to linger on the ball too long. These were exactly the tactics set out by coach Vicente Moreno in his 100th game in charge of Real Mallorca. We never gave Zidane?s boys an inch and were on their case for the full 94 minutes of playing time. Just to show how big the upset was, we had been quoted as 9/2 by the bookies ? Madrid?s odds? 2/5 on!
SUMMING UP: This victory was one of those games you never forget and will be etched in the historical annals of this great little football club. Our fans on Saturday gave us brilliant support, fuelling the hope of staying in La Liga come next May. Six of Saturday?s starters were playing on muddy, paddy field-type pitches and plastic surfaces in Segunda B a couple of years ago and ten of the team played in our promotion push last season. Dreams can come true.
We showed great character with every one of our players putting in a performance of note. The only player finding the going tough was Joan Sastre. He was turned every which way but loose with the lightning pace of Vinicius Junior finding him too hot to handle. Sastre got himself in the referee?s black book before being substituted by Lemar at half time.
One player who took the eye was Fran Gamez. This 28-year-old right back was signed from Valencia Segunda B suburb club Saguntino for 30,000 euros last year when he was a van driver. On Saturday night all his family came over to watch him fulfil his dream of playing in La Liga against Real Madrid, it would bring a tear to a glass eye!!
Japanese sensation Kubo came on in the 58th minute to play against his parent club. He gave us a couple of half-hearted pirouettes and a few jinky runs but not much else.
There?s a lot to be said for action replays but in the bar after the game they showed Lago?s goal over and over again from different angles not once, not twice, but 37 times ? gives new meaning to the term ?Let?s see that again!?
We play bottom dwellers Leganes on Saturday in Madrid at 4 pm in a game just as important as last Saturday ? let?s hope it?s not a banana skin scenario.
PS Real Madrid arrived at the Son Moix in their official team coach. The team flew in by private jet hours before the game then chilled out in a Son Vida hotel. After the game, they went back to Madrid. The club had brought the bus all the way from Madrid to Barcelona, bringing it over on the ferry. It took the team from the airport to the hotel, then from the hotel to the Son Moix (10 minutes), then back to the airport ? what?s that all about?!