Real Mallorca 1 - Almeria 0
Real Mallorca have inspirational veteran Salva Sevilla to thank for their narrow 1-0 win against Almeria in front of 9,640 fans on Sunday lunchtime, which leaves Mallorca in fourth place and the play-off dream very much becoming a reality. If we get a point next Monday away at Depor we’ve nailed it. The 34-year-old Alicante-born midfielder with over 200 games under his belt at Real Betis and Espanyol was magnificent on Sunday. Not only did he pick up the prestigious award as the best player of the month in April, but in the 75th minute, after Lago Junior had been hacked down for the umpteenth time, Salva curled in the resultant free kick to send the Son Moix into raptures.
He was the rudder on the good ship Real Mallorca and the driving force on the pitch. Mallorca deservedly won this game but they should have been three up in the first half an hour. Once again a misfiring Budimir missed two chances which should have been put away and Aridai hit a shot which rattled the post just before half time. Almeria didn’t create any clearcut chances and they finished a fiery encounter with just nine men, with another being sent off after the final whistle. After being out for six weeks with a knee ligament problem, Pervis Estupiñan made his comeback, and he was on fire. What an engine this young Ecuadorian left back’s got, and he combined perfectly down the left alongside Lago Junior.
We got very lucky in the seventh minute when Joan Sastre knocked over Luis Rioja in the area. It looked a clear penalty but the referee was unmoved. The first 15 minutes saw both teams suffer from a catalogue of errors and for Mallorca, especially, the nerves were showing. Although the game was entertaining, the longer it went on, the more nervous the players and especially the fans got. Aridai Cabrera has turned into one of the most frustrating players. There’s no doubt he has exceptional talent but when it comes to one-on-one with the goalkeeper he comes up well short. He had his fourth such confrontation of the season on Sunday and yet again he failed to deliver.
Almeria looked a capable second division side but going forward were poor. They had no idea how to stop the skill of Lago Junior and the searing runs of the returning Estupiñan. If they both keep injury free, their contribution in the plays-offs will be huge.