This was a proper cup tie and a real morale booster for the Palma boys. | MIQUEL A. BORRAS

After a weekend when, before he left the country, No-vac Djokovic and his entourage were playing Family Fortunes in their quarantine hotel – one of the questions being asked was “We asked 100 people to name something you get from Australia,” you said “Deported !” – Real Mallorca for the first time in 10 years reached the quarter finals of the Copa del Rey when they beat Espanyol 2-1 in front of 11,403 fans.

This was a proper cup tie and a real morale booster for the Palma boys.

Great credit must be given to our coach Luis Garcia Plaza who, after a series of bad results, had Mallorca playing like they were at the start of the season.

Six of our team on Saturday suffered relegation two years ago.

Goalkeeper Leo Roman has played most of his football in the local third division and a left back, Jaume Costa, who’s nearly 34 years old, had to play out of position at right back because of an injury to Maffeo and the departure of Sastre to the Greek side Salonica. At present the squad are crying out for reinforcements and every day that goes by in January without signings puts more pressure on LGP.

On Saturday Mallorca looked a different side from the one struggling of late in La Liga.
We were more serious and focused and defended well, but it was in midfield where we won the game.

Salva Sevilla and Galaretta were imperious and without Baba, now playing (and getting injured) for his country Ghana at the African Cup of Nations, we played without a holding midfielder although we did find it hard to create clear out chances.

In the 32nd minute Take Kubo scored our first goal of 2022 and it was a belter.

He drilled home a left foot, free kick “howitzer” from three metres outside the penalty area over the defensive wall and past Espanyol’s veteran ’keeper Diego Lopez.

The 20-year-old Japanese international showed that he was back to his best after being out for two months with a knee problem. Local hero Abdon Prats doubled the lead from a Salva Sevilla corner (Espanyol didn’t have any) on the hour mark.

The Arta “wrecking ball” got a standing ovation when he was substituted in the 82nd minute.

A minute later the visitors pulled one back but what a palaver there was before the goal was allowed.

VAR was at its confusing best after Puado scored. It took five minutes of consultation between referee Jaime Latre and his video pals in Madrid to come to a decision.

Señor Latre stood like a statue for four minutes with his left arm raised.

If I’d done that, my arm would have dropped off ! First of all the offside flag went up with the Mallorca players complaining that the referee hadn’t blown his whistle, allowing a free kick to be taken.

Then came the frustrating part for us fans, sitting chewing our nails. We had absolutely no idea what was going on and why.

All this time the referee stood his ground with his finger in his shell-like, communicating to the VAR room, but five minutes? – gimme a break!

Without opening a can of worms here, all I’m saying is there should – in my opinion – be a time limit (e.g. one minute) for all the officials to make their minds up.

Fortunately the decision didn’t prevent us going through to the last eight and we’ll find out our opponents on Friday.

The next round is being played in the first week of February.

Once again it’s one-legged with the semi-finals having home and away games.

SUMMING UP: As I said at the start, this was a good old-fashioned cup tie, the first one played in the Son Moix for three years.

Espanyol came back into the game towards the closing stages but credit to Mallorca, they kept the visitors’ efforts down to a Wu Lei shot in the 97th minute.

It was good to see the young American, Matthew Hoppe, getting on the pitch, albeit for the final few minutes.

He’s had a wretched time with injuries since coming here last Summer and he said on Twitter “Into the next round – proud of the team for getting the win and it felt good to get some minutes in.”

Mallorca now have to transfer their cup heroics through to Saturday, when they visit Villareal, kick off at La Ceramica stadium is at 4:15 pm.

They surprisingly lost away at Elche, who have leapfrogged Mallorca, pushing us further down the La Liga table into 16th place.

On Sunday over 4,000 Balearicos squeezed into the Estadi Balear on the Via Cintura to see At. Baleares giant-killing Cup run come to an end. They lost 0-1 to Valencia, who scored the game’s only goal after just 40 seconds.

PS I see managerless Everton have gone to Lanzarote for some warm weather training. You can’t beat the Canaries at this time of year!

AND FINALLY, a doctor made it his regular habit to stop off at the bar for a hazelnut daiquiri on his way home.

The bartender knew of his habit and would always have the drink waiting at precisely 5:03 pm.

One afternoon the bartender was dismayed to find out he’d run out of hazelnut extract.
Thinking quickly, he threw together a daiquiri made with hickory nuts and set it on the bar.

The doctor came in at his regular time, took one sip of the drink and exclaimed
“This isn’t a hazelnut daiquiri!”

“No, I’m sorry,” replied the bartender “It’s a hickory daiquiri, Doc!!”