After a weekend when singer Adele showed off her new look, seven-stone weight-loss body with a song entitled Hello from the other side, I must’ve dodged a thousand pies! – Real Mallorca surpassed all the footballing elements (including a penalty miss and VAR decisions) to grab three vital points against Deportivo Alaves, with 14 games left.
In a high intensity match which included a nail-biting last 20 minutes, the islanders returned to home form after losing their last four games. It was also our first clean sheet since beating Real Madrid 1-0 on October 19.
On Sunday night, nobody gave Celta Vigo a prayer in the Santiago Bernabeu against a rampant Real Madrid. However, and unfortunately for us, Celta snatched a draw at the death which meant that we’re third bottom on 21 points, two more than Leganes and Espanyol.
There was a pre-match worry on Saturday that last week’s institutional changes could upset the preparation for the game but after a slow start from the home team they hung on for a “massive” three points. It was a match that turned out to be the proverbial game of two halves. Alaves were all over Mallorca like a rash in the first 15 minutes. So much so that their goalkeeper Pacheco never touched the ball.
In the 27th minute our Ghanaian left back Lumor went down holding his hamstring and limped off. His place went to winter window signing Leonardo Koutris (Brazilian born with a Greek passport) who was making his debut.
On the half hour mark, Mallorca were involved in the first of two hand ball VAR decisions.
The ball hit Alaves defender Magallan on the hand and the referee, after a lengthy review, pointed to the penalty spot. The normally reliable Salva Sevilla telegraphed his shot, allowing Pacheco to dive to his left and save the effort.
Salva looked crestfallen after his 11 metre miss but the Ultras behind the North goal started chanting his name so all was forgiven. Despite missing that golden opportunity, Mallorca refused to throw in the towel and continued to press forward. Alaves had a couple of half chances but their finishing never gave our goalkeeper Manolo Reina any problems.
Into the second half and Mallorca began to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
In the 50th minute Take Kubo was brought on and he quickly showed coach Moreno why he deserved more playing time.
Kubo came on for Febas and the scenario drastically changed as our “Japanese Messi” ran at the Alaves defenders which meant he was being scythed down left, right and centre.
He became our game changer and had a huge part in the “disallowed” opener! Cucho Hernandez started the move down the left, he back heeled the ball into the path of Kubo.
He took off along the byline before setting up Dani Rodriguez to score. The referee did his usual VAR check which took forever then decided Hernandez had handled the ball in the build up. I’ve watched the incident dozens of times and can see nothing wrong.
Cucho flicked the ball up on to his knee then he flicked it again this time up to his armpit.
That was adjudged to be handball and the goal was disallowed. A terrible decision but Mallorca, to their credit, didn’t give up and got their reward in the 62nd minute.
New boy Leonardo went down the left wing, put over a “worldy” cross, which saw Cucho’s diving header brilliantly kept out by Pacheco.
However he couldn’t hold on the ball and it fell kindly for the Colombian who hammered in his first goal since his introduction last month.
1-0, no more than we deserved. Alaves had the ball in the net at the end but the goal was chalked off correctly for offside.
SUMMING UP: Mallorca fought hard to keep their noses in front. Kubo’s contribution was immense but it was our two central defenders, Raillo and Valjent, who took the eye.
Raillo went off injured near the end after taking a nasty fall on his head. The Slovakian Martin Valjent has been an unsung hero for us, playing in every minute of every game and there is no doubt he is the supreme professional. There was a disappointing attendance of only 12, 329 on Saturday, a beautiful February day. We have 16,000 socios, which meant 3,671 didn’t turn up. With the team struggling down the wrong end of La Liga, we need all hands on deck. Our league position remains agonising and may be until the end of the season. Next up, we’re away at Betis on Friday at 9pm.
PS Pep Guardiola is already planning for next season’s Champions League – he’s bought a 70” smart TV!!
AND FINALLY, a guy’s sitting in his mate’s new environmentally-friendly car when he hears a squeak coming from behind the dashboard. He asks “What’s that noise, it doesn’t sound right?” The driver tells him “That’s Martina, my gay rodent directional device. It squeaks once for left, twice for right and three times when you arrive. It’s incredibly accurate.” His mate says “What’s with the huge box of strawberry meringue on the back seat?” The driver answers (wait for it) “That’s what it eats: MARTINA NAV RAT PAVLOVA!”