Real Mallorca turned on the style to win only their third away game of a brilliant campaign when they inflicted Las Palmas's first home defeat of the season in the Estadio Gran Canario late on Sunday night. The win puts Mallorca back in the play-off positions with eleven games left to play in what for the Palma club was a sensational victory.
We looked on fire from the kick-off, and a shot from Leo Saurez making his first start since coming on loan from Villarreal in January showed our intentions. With the home team's first foray forward, they scored. Joan Sastre slipped attempting a sliding tackle, allowing Mallorca-born Rafa Mir to put the home side ahead against the run of play. Mallorca's Ecuadorian left back Pervis Estupiñan (on loan from Watford) is a physical beast who seems to get better game by game; he was heavily involved in our equaliser in the 17th minute. A brilliant build-up between him and Lago Junior saw a through ball toe-poked in by Budimir (from a well offside position), and he scored his fourth goal in five games. This was a remarkable first 45 minutes for Real Mallorca and even yours truly thought our away form would be our undoing this season.
Into the second half and Las Palmas looked like their new coach, Pepe Mel, had read them the riot act during the interval. They were all over Mallorca like a rash but somehow we held on. After ten minutes of extreme effort, Las Palmas dropped their heads as we raised ours.
Local boy Aridai came on for Mallorca and in front of his own people he turned on the razzle dazzle. However, Las Palmas still had that fear factor with their two deadly attackers causing problems; our captain/goal keeper, Manolo Reina, had to look sharp on a couple of occasions.
'Silver Fox' Salva Sevilla was back to his imperial best, floating in a hovering free kick in the 75th minute. Our defensive 'hard man' centre back, Antonio Raillo, was in the penalty box mix, brilliantly heading in the winning goal. Over the season, Raillo’s had countless chances thwarted by goal frames and goal line clearances but finally he got his just rewards. In a nail-biting last ten minutes many fans in the Mallorcafe were pacing up and down the bar shouting out Majorcan profanities, one or two asking the referee to put us out of our state of stress by blowing for full time.
If VAR had been used on Sunday, as it will be next season, our equalising goal wouldn't have counted. Nevertheless, this was a brilliant third away win of the season for Real Mallorca, as we seem to have hit form at exactly the right time. Every single player wearing the red and black was a hero. Coach Vicente Moreno must take full credit for turning our away form around, especially in a difficult arena.