Football match at home

Real Mallorca in action.

21-10-2018MIQUEL A. BORR¿ÅS

Real Mallorca had their first home draw of the season when they were held to a dire 1-1 draw by a “dirty” Extremadura side on Sunday. Several Mallorca players limped out of the Son Moix after the game. One of them was Slovak player Martin Valjent, who spent the night in observation at Clinica Juaneda with bruising to his kidneys. There's no doubt this was our worst home performance of the season, not helped by a pedantic, whistle-happy referee. Extremadura came to Palma with a game plan which was don't lose and they fulfilled their mission. This was one of the most cynically negative performances seen at the Son Moix for a long time.

The first half was a war of attrition, neither side making much headway. Extremadura set up shop with a two line defensive barrier which Mallorca found virtually impossible to penetrate. Our build-up was way too slow and I can't remember a game with so many misplaced passes. The normally reliable Salva Sevilla had a mare and if he doesn’t deliver, Mallorca don't deliver.

Madrid referee Moreno Aragon didn't help matters by not allowing the game to flow. Two weeks ago in Son Moix against Tenerife, the referee didn't show any cards. Señor Aragon brandished cards like confetti, booking five visiting players, three Mallorca players, showing two red cards, one of them a straight red for our player Baba in the 95th minute. Mallorca got a taste of just how bad the referee was in the 38th minute. Aridai was homing in on goal and was cynically hacked down from behind by a rash challenge from Olabe. It was a leg-breaking lunge that should have had only one outcome - a straight red card. The referee bottled it and flashed a yellow, a derisory decision that incensed the 8,100 crowd.

After the interval Mallorca had obviously been told by coach Vicente Moreno that they had to threaten more and find a way through or round the visiting two defensive lines. We'd found some space and both Gamez and Abdon Prats saw chances go narrowly wide. Salva Sevilla in midfield tried in vain to create chances but time and time again he was caught in possession and found passes being regularly intercepted.

After the first 45 minutes during which we looked asleep, Mallorca suddenly woke up but only because the coach made a necessary change. In the 57th minute Dani Rodriguez made way for an under-used Stoichkov and with his first touch he delivered the killer pass to set up our opener. His introduction revolutionised the game for Mallorca. His prodigious through ball found Salva Ruiz in space, he side-footed the ball to Aridai and he only had to tap the ball over the line to score the opener.

The already scrappy game then got a whole lot scrappier with fouls and yellow cards flying in from all directions and it was no surprise when Extremadura went a man down. Another horrendous tackle saw their captain Aitor shown a second yellow and he was for the early bath with 20 minutes to go. It was hoped that we would somehow manage to hold on for a win but that wasn't to be. With the referee adding on an extra five minutes, Mallorca fans got into nail-chewing mode.

We looked really shaky at the back, especially when Raillo left injured in the 78th minute. Ten-man Extremadura forced a free kick and a corner as full time loomed. From the resultant set piece Martin Valjent grabbed an Extremadura player round the neck and the referee pointed to the spot. Marquez stepped up and just managed to squeeze in the equaliser with virtually the last kick of the game. Things got worse for us when a wild tackle from Baba saw him given a straight red card as our nervousness finally cracked. Two points dropped for Mallorca in what was a poor display.