After a weekend when Phil Collins was pictured taking a tumble and is in a wheelchair, he blocked an exit door trying to get out of a building, much to the annoyance of a woman who was trying to get past him, as the two exchanged words he was heard saying "I can't hurry love!" Real Mallorca, in front of 15,052, scored a goal in each half of their game against Espanyol to leapfrog into third bottom place with seven points after eight games. Goals from Ante Budimir and "Silver Fox", Salva Sevilla saw the islanders sink their rivals to second bottom in the La Liga Santander table.
Espanyol looked decidedly jaded after their heroics in the Europa League where they beat CSKA Moscow 0-2 in the Russian capital on Thursday night. They attempted to dominate the game in the first half but it was Mallorca who opened the scoring in the 36th minute. Ghanaian youngster Baba took possession in midfield before sliding the ball through to Joan Sastre down the right flank. He controlled the pass, crossing to Ante Budemir and the Croatian chested the ball home, 1-0. That was our first home goal since the opening game of the season. It took a while for that strike to come but when it did it brought smiles to a decidedly nervous Son Moix in what was a scrappy opening 36 minutes.
In the second half Espanyol tried to react but some of their passing was wayward to say the least. They came close in the 52nd minute when a partially-hit effort from Campuzano was easily snapped up by Manolo Reina in the home goal. Then it was Mallorca's turn to give the ball away as the home side began to take the advantage. Kubo, who surprisingly didn't make the initial starting XI, came on for a misfiring Lago Junior in the 57th minute. The diminutive 18-year-old Japanese whizz kid with the twinkling toes was continuously hacked down every time he attempted a mazy run. His appearance must have caused a power surge on the Japanese national grid as he continues to make a huge impact both on the pitch and off it. Again, there was a large contingent of Japanese media at the game.
Goal number two came in the 73rd minute and it was a howling defensive error from the Budgies' defence that assured us of three golden points. A misplaced clearance saw the ball go straight to Febas, he pushed it through to Salva Sevilla who volleyed home with his left foot to make it 2-0. He then proceeded to stick the ball up his shirt, which is a footballing sign that his wife is in the family way. Mallorca were home and hosed and managed to hold on to give them only their second win of the season. Final score 2-0.
THE VERDICT: This was a determined, dogged and hard-fought three points which has gone a long way to silence all those doubters who've been giving Mallorca and their coach Vicente Moreno a hard time in the local press and on social media this past week. It was a game which probably will see the demise of Espanyol coach David Gallego as in all honesty his team looked a poor side with no clear ideas either up front or in defence. Once again Real Mallorca turned the Son Moix into a fortress and most importantly they kept a clean sheet. Although both sides started off treating the ball like a hot potato, it was in midfield where Mallorca won the battle. Dani Rodriguez again showed what a great box to box player he is and Baba was at his imperial best breaking up countless attacks with his timely interventions.
But it was in defence where our star was on Sunday. Martin Valjent was tremendous at the back and the Slovakian international played his best game since coming here last season. Alongside him Antonio Raillo made a welcome return after a three-week absence but was helped off the pitch in the 68th minute with what looked like a recurrence of his injury, to be replaced by club captain Xisco Campos.
Marc Pedraza enjoyed his first minutes in La Liga as a 76th minute replacement for a cramping Baba as Mallorca held on. The win allows the team a bit of breathing space as they prepare for a misfiring Real Madrid in the Son Moix on Saturday week, the 19th at 9 pm. There's no doubt the Madrid maestros will start favourites but I have a sneaky feeling Mallorca might just get something positive from this game.
Once again, if you intend coming, try and get to the Son Moix at least an hour early, as traffic problems are guaranteed.
It was like an edition of All Our Yesterdays before the game. I met up with the S'Arraco hit men, Eric George and Bob wearing his well-preserved 1997 Spanair Mallorca shirt! Keeping them under control was fellow columnist and the purple rinse brigade?s heart-throb, the bewhiskered Frank Leavers.
I don't often praise referees but on Sunday referee Burgos Bengoetxea from up north in Basque country handled the game with aplomb. One thing I did notice was when a goal is scored the referee now doesn't point immediately to the centre spot but puts his finger to the listening piece in his ear to hear what the VAR people in Las Rozas in Madrid think.
Some of Mallorca's ex pat supporters.
AND FINALLY, a man escapes from prison where he's been locked up for 20 years. He breaks into a house where he finds a young couple in bed. He orders the guy out of bed and ties him to a chair. He then ties the wife to the bed where he starts kissing her neck, then he gets up and goes to the bathroom. While he's there, the husband whispers to his wife "Listen cupcakes, this guy is an escaped convict, look at his clothes, HMP Parkhurst on his shirt is a dead give-away. He hasn't seen a woman in years, I saw the way he kissed your neck and obviously he's got the hots for you. If he wants sex, don't resist, do whatever he wants, he's desperate, be strong, I love you." She replies "Babes, he wasn't kissing my neck, he was whispering in my ear and asked if we had any Vaseline. I told him it's in the bathroom cabinet, he told me he's gay and thinks you're cute. Be strong, babes, I love you too!"
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