Mallorca coach Fernando Vázquez, relaxed enough during the win over Girona. | Miquel Àngel Borràs

0

Real Mallorca won their first game of the season when they hung on to beat Girona 1-0 on Sunday night, taking a few faltering steps back up the league table in the process. This win was just the morale-boosting tonic the islanders wanted, as it moved them off bottom place (where we now are on five points with six other teams). But, boy, did we make heavy weather of the win.

Juan Emanuel Culio's deflected 21st minute free kick was enough to give us all three points against a spirited Girona side who, apart from the first 20 minutes, failed to produce any noteworthy chances. The islanders dominated for most of the game but once again failed to put away some pretty straightforward opportunities.

Coach Vazquez elected to play Brandon Thomas as a lone striker, a decision which backfired big time as the Cala d'Or youngster has neither the height nor the physique to be a real threat leading the line. However, as usual, he worked his socks off and was given a rousing ovation when he was substituted near the end.

On the hour mark Juan Rodriguez had a free shot at goal which went wide, then eight minutes later Brandon was put through by Campabadal. He homed in on goal but unbelievably fired inches past the far post. Both these chances should have seen Mallorca home and hosed as the longer the match went on the deeper we played.

Culio's goal hit Girona's Italian striker Longo and spun over Bono's head to put the Palma side ahead. It's debatable whether it goes down as an own goal or not. I prefer to give Culio the credit as he was our best player on Sunday by some distance.

Summing up: A goal, three points and a clean sheet saw Mallorca win their first league game of the season in front of nearly 9,000 fans. We started this game at breakneck speed, passing the ball well and putting Girona's defence under pressure for half an hour. Then Moutinho received an injury and limped off to be replaced by Pol Roigé. Once again Lago Junior caused no end of trouble for the visitors' defenders; his pace and darting runs always caused the Girona defenders no end of grief. We passed the ball well, tackled with great tenacity but in the second half as usual we sat back and allowed Girona more possession. The game by now was getting stretched and frenetic with niggly fouls taking centre stage.

Two clearcut chances went begging, and with time running out the question being asked was whether Mallorca could hold on for three points. Some brilliant defending from Yuste and Raillo saw us do that, just.

Mallorca now have a very challenging five days, a trip to Tenerife on Thursday, then another banana-skin encounter against one more newly-promoted team UCAM Murcia next Sunday at the Son Moix. At least now we've won a league game and kept a clean sheet – onwards and upwards.