Real Mallorca played their best home match of the season on Thursday night and remain undefeated in eight games, and in third place, when they easily brushed aside a pedestrian Malaga side 3-1.
The islanders pegged the visitors back in their penalty area for the first ten minutes and it was no surprise when we took the lead. A shot from distance by Cufre fell to Martin Valjent standing on the Malaga penalty spot, he failed to control the ball although it bounced into the path of Amath and the Senegalese striker hammered in the goal with a slight deflection, 1-0. That was his first goal in two years after a long lay-off with a horrible injury. He’s now looking sharper after a few weeks of training and Amath looks to be a good (on-loan-from-Getafe) acquisition. Mallorca dominated the first half and went in at the break on “easy street.”
Four minutes after half time Mallorca doubled their lead. Salva Sevilla put a free kick on Antonio Raillo’s head and he nodded in the second. There was a VAR offside review but the rules now state that the upper extremities do not count when judging as to whether a player is deemed offside or not, 2-0.
By now Mallorca were playing like they had an extra man and nothing was going right for Malaga. They did however pull one back in the 68th minute through our ex player Chavarria. That goal, which came off Raillo, saw our record breaking clean sheet statistic come to an end after 737 minutes. It was ironic that Chavarria, who hardly played for us last season, scored against us and Malaga didn’t deserve the goal as they offered little meaningful resistance, 2-1.
Five minutes later and the Mallorcafé choir were in full voice as Dani Rodriguez rocketed in our third goal. He took a pass from Sanchez and made no mistake from 25 yards to score his third goal of the season and become our leading scorer. What an engine Dani’s got !
With an away game at 17th-placed Zaragoza on Sunday (4 pm) coach Luis Garcia Plaza brought on the allowed five substitutes in the last 20 minutes. After our trip to La Romareda, it’s back to normal with just one game a week for the foreseeable future.
SUMMING UP: Coach LGP has done a fantastic job so far and on this form Mallorca look a safe bet to be in the top four next May. We’re pressing the opposition into making mistakes and his rotations have been spot on. The team is getting better and better and the intensity of their play is great to watch. LGP has tightened up the defence and now, at last, the goals are flying in as we lie third in La Liga SmartBank, We’ve now got a slight swagger to our play and it augers well for the rest of the season. Man of the match for me, Ruiz de Galaretta, what a revelation he’s been this season – a class act.
A friend of mine for his sins is a Reading supporter and he has been waxing lyrical about them being “on fire” at the top of the championship in England. They scored a goal after just eight seconds the other night. Indeed they’re having their best start to a season for a long time and “The Royals” resurgence is all down to an ex Mallorca player, Veljiko Paunovic, who played for us twice in 98/99 and 2001/02, and is now the coach at the Madejski stadium. “Pauno” was an integral part of Hector Cuper’s team who reached the final of the 1999 European Cup Winners’ Cup, and when we finished third in La Liga a couple of years later under Luis Aragones.
AND FINALLY, a young man hobbles onto the set of Stars in Their Eyes in 2004 with a huge plaster cast from his feet to his hips. Matthew Kelly introduces him as Simon. “It’s very brave of you to come out here,” says Matthew. “Please tell the audience what happened.” “Well,” replies Simon, “about a year ago I was driving with my uncle when we had a really bad accident. Unfortunately my uncle was killed but I survived. I was trapped in the car for six hours before I was eventually cut free. The doctors had me in surgery for 12 hours but they couldn’t save my legs.”
“That’s terrible but I see you have legs now, are they artificial?” asks Matthew. “No, Matthew,” says Simon, “when I was in hospital they told me about my uncle dying and they also told me about a ground-breaking operation where they grafted the bottom half of his body onto mine. It was a successful operation. I’ve been in physiotherapy for six months and I should be walking unaided again soon.”
A huge round of applause erupts from the audience as Matthew responds with “That’s an amazing story. So tonight who are you going to be?” “Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be Simon and Half Uncle!!”