Referee Manzano consulting the VAR screen.

21-12-2019Steve Baggaley

Real Mallorca were robbed of at least a point in the Son Moix yesteday lunchtime when they went down two-nil to third-placed Sevilla. VAR took centre stage, not helped by a truly terrible referee, Señor Gil Manzano, a FIFA official who’s reckoned to be the second best referee in Spanish football.

Mallorca got off to the worst possible start. With 90 seconds on the clock, Kubo went on a mazy run, beat two of Sevilla’s ruffian defenders before setting up a gift opportunity for Lago Junior. Unbelievably, our Ivorian superstar blasted his chance from a yard out high over the bar and spinning onto the surrounding obsolete running track - what a miss and what a let off for Sevilla.

Twenty minutes later the visitors took the lead after a calamitous mistake by goalkeeper Manolo Reina. Over came a corner kick, Reina went to claim the ball, was nowhere near it and Diego Carlos looped in a header. After that soft goal from yet another set piece, the referee began to show just how bad he was. He was one of those po-faced officials with no personality who started blowing up for every conceivable coming together. By this time he was being given pelters from the 14,231 crowd for some rank bad decisions, as Mallorca struggled to get back into the game against a team who were past masters at diving, falling down and winning free kicks. That’s why they're third top of La Liga. In the 26th minute Sevilla’s Munir looked to have brought down Lago in the area, but the referee took no notice of our appeals.

Just before half time came an unbelievable VAR decision. After a brilliant Mallorca build-up, Budimir’s effort was chalked off for having a big toe offside. After a consultation of three minutes, which had most of the Son Moix on the edge of their seats, Manzano signalled a goal kick to the despair of the crowd, who by now were baying for the referee's blood. As the whistle blew for half time, the fans were incandescent with rage at the ineptitude of a so-called FIFA referee. So much so that the officials left the pitch with a police escort as a sea of white hankies were waved in anger.

During the interval, Mallorca fans were feeling like they’d been mugged and robbed. The referee’s decisions were unbelievably bad and things were about to get even worse.

Ten minutes into the second half and our coach Vicente Moreno took a tiring Salva Sevilla off and brought on Colombian teenager Cucho Hernandez, who joined Budimir upfront. We found our rhythm again, forcing a corner down the left. Suddenly the game was stopped as Manzano gave the tell-tale sign of finger up to earpiece, VAR was talking. As we were about to launch the corner, the referee consulted the VAR boys in Madrid, who incredibly gave a penalty to Sevilla up the other end. Baba was alleged to have been the culprit, giving away his third penalty of the season and Banega rattled in the spot kick.

Now it really was game over for Real Mallorca as the final quarter of an hour became a scrappy affair. Our Japanese superstar Kubo must have been covered in leg bruises after this game, as he was the brunt of many hard tackles that other referees would have punished.

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