After a weekend when I heard about a guy who is in love with two women, one writes poetry and the other makes great Yorkshire puddings – should he marry for batter or verse ? – Real Mallorca went three points clear of Espanyol and Almeria (who have a game in hand) at the top of La Liga SmartBank with a 92nd minute winner at a blustery Son Moix on Saturday night. They beat Girona 1-0, Espanyol lost to Rayo Vallecano 3-2 (Rayo being the first side to beat Espanyol at home this season) and Almeria, who look our biggest threat, easily defeated Castellon 3-1. We have to play both Espanyol and Almeria in Palma on the 14th and 21st of this month.
Senegal-born Amath Ndiaye scored a stunning stoppage time goal laid on by the genius of Dani Rodriguez. The game was spoilt as a spectacle by a strong swirling wind which favoured us in the first half and Girona in the second. We came into this game cock-a-hoop after our excellent 1-3 away win in Madrid last Saturday against Rayo Vallecano.
Mallorca controlled possession early doors and our first shot was a wayward effort from Amath. Then left back Brian Olivan hit another on the volley that Girona ‘keeper Juan Carlos scrambled away. The visitors then nearly scored an own goal, the wind-assisted ball shaving the crossbar.
In the 20th minute in what was Girona’s first attack with menace, 19-year-old Man. City loanee Pablo Moreno looked to have beaten a diving Manolo Reina to put Girona ahead against the run of play. The goal was correctly disallowed by VAR for offside. Not long after we also nearly scored an own goal. A breakdown in communications between Sastre and Reina saw the ball go agonisingly close to the near post.
In the second half Mallorca started on the back foot against the improvising visitors. They played with a three-pronged attack of Stuani, Saiz and the guy who’s on our radar, the Senegalese Mamadou Sylla, his height and bustling style kept our resolute defenders on their toes.
Mallorca no longer had control of the game, especially in midfield as Girona began to threaten with Reina being the busier ‘keeper. On the hour mark Mallorca’s Antonio Sanchez saw his attempt pushed round the post.
In the 70th minute Sastre went on a run sprinting into Girona territory. He suddenly pulled up holding his left thigh muscle before crumbling in a heap. It looked like he had aggravated the same muscle injury that kept him out for three weeks. With other right back option Fran Gamez also a long-term absentee, we now have no ready replacement at right back with two vitally important games on the horizon.
In the 83rd minute Sylla broke away down the right. Cutting inside he unleashed a rocket shot which Reina somehow saved brilliantly with his chest.
Four added minutes went up on the board and it looked to be a 0-0 certainty. Then came a goal nobody saw coming. Dani Rodriguez for most of the game was “el hombre invisible” drifting in and out for long periods. In the 92nd minute he got the ball down the stand side touchline. Ghosting past two players, he then supplied a “worldy” defence-splitting pass through for Amath to run on to and he scored his fifth of the campaign with a cool finish, 1-0. Game over.
SUMMING UP : In adverse weather conditions Mallorca adapted quicker and their win made Girona’s chances of getting into the play-off mix nigh on impossible. The win was rather subdued by Sastre’s injury and coach LGP has to find a replacement to play in our next game on FRIDAY at 9 p.m. away at Albacete. There were plenty of rumours regarding new signings over the weekend as the transfer window closed at midnight last night.
Striker and ex Mallorca player Alfaro Gimenez has arrived on loan from Cadiz. Also expected was the follically-challenged At. Madrid player Victor Mollejo. Our No. 2 goalkeeper, Miquel Perera, looks to be moving to pastures new and the Slovan Bratislava goalkeeper Dominik Greif (let’s hope he doesn’t give us grief !) could be taking his place.
PS The roof of the Son Moix stand would have been raised when we scored that late late goal. Such a pity none of us could witness the occasion live. Mind you the early leavers would have missed it anyway !
AND FINALLY, an Aussie and a Kiwi went fishing one afternoon and afterwards decided to have a couple of cold beers. After a while the Aussie said to the Kiwi “If I was to sneak over to your house and made wild passionate love to your wife while you were at work, and she got pregnant and had a baby, would that make us related ?” The Kiwi, after a great deal of thought, said “Well, I don’t know about being related but it sure would make us even !”