After a weekend when the championship decider in England, a massive game between two sides playing for the dream of being relegated next season, saw Brentford getting around 160 million quid for their efforts, whereas Real Mallorca after gaining promotion a few weeks ago back to La Liga trousered a paltry 3 million euros. They drew 2-2 away at Ponferradina after being 13 minutes away from being crowned champions of La Liga SmartBank. Arch rivals Espanyol came unstuck at Alcorcon, losing 1-0, which meant we only had to win to become champions.
Promotion was of course paramount for Real Mallorca. Espanyol, despite losing, won the title on goal difference/head to head. Mallorca made ground on Espanyol over the last two games, so much so that if they’d lost and we won, Mallorca would have had a double celebration, promotion and the title. Sadly that wasn’t the case but we came mighty close. Substitute Abdon Prats (what a fantastic season he’s had) came off the bench near the end to score, putting us 1-2 ahead. The title was in our grasp.
With time running out, I was wearing a hole in our new Leroy Merlin carpet, when Ponferradina’s Curro hit a thunderous belter from 20 yards to put the home side level. Mallorca had promotion signed, sealed and delivered two weeks ago, and had done all the hard work. To win the league would have been the cherry on top of the knickerbocker glory, but it wasn’t to be, once again we came up inches short of a major honour (not for the first time in our 105 year history).
Ponferradina took the lead against the run of play in the 42nd minute. A well-twitchy referee blew for a foul by captain-for-the-night Raillo and Sielva just squeezed the spot kick past Koke Vegas, 1-0. The penalty award was totally unjust as Febas had been clearly fouled further up the pitch seconds before. From then on the game went mad, a brilliant through pass from Galarreta reached Marc Cardona and the Catalan youngster on loan from Osasuna made it 1-1. I was delighted for him as he’s had a wretched season, blighted by injury and Covid quarantine restrictions.
Near the end of the first half there were another two clear penalty shouts on Febas to which both the pitch referee and the VAR team didn’t even contemplate which made Febas very angry and he was booked on the 70th minute for being lippy. Mallorca then had three chances through Cufre, Amath and Abdon Prats (nicknamed the Arta Assassin) to double their lead and he netted his tenth goal of the season in the 76th minute, his low shot beating Gazzaniga all ends up, 1-2. That meant we were league champions with minutes to go.
Then the game entered that last phase when everything was possible and a youngster called Curro Sanchez in the 86th minute destroyed our league-winning aspirations, with the league champions’ trophy getting red and black ribbons tied on it. He hit a beauty which had goal written all over it, 2-2. The result meant that Espanyol’s win against us (1-2 in Palma on February 15) made them La Liga SmartBank champions on the head to head count.
Abdon then very nearly nicked another one but the ball was scrambled clear, it was a heartbreak finish but it was also mission accomplished.
The finish with Espanyol couldn’t have been any closer. We both won 24, we both drew 10 and we both lost 8. They scored 71 goals to our 54 and we both conceded 28.
Needless to say, social media went berserk with messages of delight after one of the best seasons in a long, long time drew to an end. In the cold light of day, perhaps we were expecting too much to win the league as well.
The staff and players now go on a well deserved Summer break after what’s been a roller coaster ride. A huge amount of credit must go to coach Luis Garcia Plaza and his staff who have been magnificent, making the side into one big, happy family. Personally, I can’t wait for the new season to start, hopefully with the normal contingent of fans allowed back into the Son Moix. This will be my 38th year as a season ticket holder and in all that time I’ve missed only two games. Som de primera! Visca Mallorca!
I cooked a curry last night and the wife said it was delicious. “What did you do differently to make it taste so nice?” she enquired. I replied “I put ginger in it.” She burst out crying. I asked “What’s up?” She said “I loved that cat!”