Real Mallorca reached the 2018/19 playoffs in the Spanish second division when they drew 1-1 with Granada (who were promoted to La Liga) on Tuesday night in front of 14,000 ecstatic fans. This was like the good old days in the Son Moix. The ground was packed to the rafters with fans still rolling in 15 minutes after kick-off.
The game got off to a cagey start with either side feeling their respective way into the game which both had to win. After 28 minutes Mallorca had a clear penalty shout when Serbian striker Ante Budimir was scythed down in the penalty box by Granada's Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Silva. The Castellano/Manchego referee with the appropriate name of Archdeacon Monescillo was adamant that no foul was committed which turned the Son Moix into a crescendo of “fuera, fuera” as this useless official pranced about the pitch like a defrocked vicar! Ten minutes later a pass back from Granada full back Bernardo was picked up by Silva making the referee’s decision easy-peasy: pass back to goalkeeper, foul committed, direct free kick to Mallorca. No chance, the referee didn't even see the incident, another chance for us missed by the incompetent whistler.
The first half was tense and riveting with lots of nerves on show. Neither goalkeeper had a save to make as the teams went in at the break on level terms. The second half kicked off with many fans now consulting social media to see how other games were panning out. Players must have heard the results from other grounds as Mallorca upped the tempo.
With the news that Extremadura had taken a shock lead over Cadiz, the game took on new meaning. A well-worked move down the right involving Leo Suarez and Joan Sastre saw the opening goal in the 69th minute, Salva Sevilla slotting home as the Son Moix erupted. His goal gave birth to a dead game. The veteran midfielder scored his second consecutive goal at home after he transformed the Almeria game two weeks ago with a magical free kick. In 35-year-old silver fox Salva Sevilla we have one of the best midfield generals ever to pull on a Mallorca jersey. His mastery in directing the team is one of the major keys in what has been a wonderful season.
Granada to their credit didn’t give up and they equalised two minutes from the end of normal time. Mallorca’s Ecuadorean full back, Pervis Estupiñan, stupidly fouled just outside the area. The resultant free kick saw Granada nick a soft equaliser, the ball reaching the far post and the unmarked Fede San Emeterio nodded in the equaliser right in the front of several hundred travelling fans.
Cadiz’s surprising defeat at home to Extremadura (who we play on Saturday) means we will travel under no pressure, having secured our playoff spot. We can still (it’s a long shot) finish in third place. It all depends on how results pan out on Saturday. However, it looks highly likely that our first playoff game will be at the Son Moix against Albacete on Thursday 13 June, with the away leg the following Sunday.