Muriqi and Sanchez celebrate the opener. | Archives

After a week when India announced that they intend to launch another spacecraft, this time on a mission to the sun – to minimise danger they’ve launching at night! – RCD Mallorca won their first point against Barcelona since 2010 when they drew 2-2 in front of 20,000 in the Son Moix on Tuesday night. Mexican coach Javier Aguirre dispensed with all the Summer signings with the exception of Samu Costa, bringing in the old guard as Barcelona’s streak of seven consecutive wins in Son Moix came to an end.

This was a David and Goliath match up and was a spectacular performance from Aguirre’s team who weren’t given a hope after their dismal 5-3 drubbing by Girona last Saturday. Tuesday night’s result eased the pressure on the under-fire coach and he masterminded a true tactical plan that almost saw Mallorca snatch a win in the 97th minute. The Palma side had Barcelona on the ropes for long periods and we took a shock lead in the eighth minute.

Antonio Sanchez intercepted a poor pass from Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegen in the area. Sanchez’s first cross wasn’t dangerous but the rebound found him again, and he passed to Muriqi to score a poacher’s goal 1-0, and our first home goal this season.

The Son Moix went wild as nobody saw that goal coming. Antonio Sanchez was a surprise pick.
The Palma-born midfielder was told pre-season that his playing time would be limited and he was given the chance to either move on or stay. He chose the latter and on Tuesday night he had his best game in a Real Mallorca shirt.

I said last week that the only way we could get anything from this game was not to sit back and be dominated. Mallorca are a team that doesn’t boast a high possession count but on Tuesday, even if it was 70/30 in the visitors’ favour, when we did get the ball we made Barcelona very uneasy. All Barça’s threat came down the left from Raphinha and it was the Brazilian who put the Catalans level in the 41st minute. He latched on to the ball outside the 18 yard box, cut inside and whipped in a “worldy” past Rajkovic. Seconds later our Serb ’keeper made a fine save from Ferran Torres as the visitors went up a gear.

Just before the break came our second. The build-up was strictly Route One, none of this risky playing out from the back malarkey. A superb long lump up the pitch from Rajkovic was headed on by the omnipresent Muriqi. His head flick saw a race between Ter Stegen and Abdon Prats. The “Artenenc” won and poked in the second. Every man, woman and child was off their seat when that went in on the stroke of half time, 2-1.

As usual with Barcelona, we all knew they possessed the quality to hurt us at any time and they drew level in the 74th minute when young rookie Fermin scored. Just after the break, Barça introduced the next Lionel Messi, 16-year-old Lamine Yamal. He was brilliant, causing mayhem in our defence and was involved in a penalty shout that was rejected correctly by VAR. With minutes remaining, a much improved Sergi Darder put Kyle Larin through on goal with only Ter Stegen to beat.

He somehow contrived to miss what was a sitter. Larin doesn’t look worth the 8 million euro price tag we paid Valladolid for him in the summertime, although he has a highly successful CV. The only down side was a hamstring injury to Pablo Maffeo who could be out for a while. He then got a straight red card sitting on the bench after questioning the referee’s mother’s profession!

SUMMING UP: What a game, what a night! A really exciting game of football as a resurgent Real Mallorca moved on from their Girona debacle. I have to give a shout out to Abdon Prats as over the past few months I’ve given him stick for whatever reason. In times of adversity there is always somebody capable of saving face and showing how it should be done. He fights for every ball and clearly wears his Real Mallorca heart on his sleeve. Abdon is now our leading scorer with four goals, more than he scored over the past two seasons put together. Loved our new state of the art LG video screen above the new North end, a real innovation.

Next up, Rayo Vallecano in Madrid tomorrow (Saturday), kick off 4:15pm.

AND FINALLY, according to a recent publication in the UK, there have been some additions to the Highway Code which readers may well have missed. The following could be useful here in Mallorca as well: (1) The use of indicators on roundabouts is optional and should remain arbitrary to keep other drivers on their toes. (2) After a minor collision at a roundabout, you must leave both vehicles in the exact spot where the collision took place, so that a build-up of traffic can ensue; on no account move the vehicles to a safe position away from traffic to exchange insurance details. (3) Now this one is really important here, especially on the autopistas – it’s advisable to drive no more than three feet from the bumper of the car in front to encourage swift progress and save fuel via the slip-streaming effect.