After a weekend when I thought it was a bit harsh for Sky Sports to give their pundit Alan Smith (who can’t pronounce the letter R) the Fulham game – when Harrison Reed was playing! – Real Mallorca rescued a point from the Gran Canaria stadium on Sunday night with a 1-1 draw at Las Palmas. They had been christened Los Matagigantes (the giant killers) after they’d beaten four of the top five at home this season and nearly made it five as they came close on several occasions near the end of what at times was a vibrant match.
Goals from Amath in the 14th minute for Mallorca and Araujo just after half-time for the home side were just about a fair result, with Mallorca taking the plaudits in the first half and a revitalised Las Palmas on top in the second. In the 14th minute Mallorca went ahead when the combined play of Cufre, and a back-to-form Dani Rodriguez down the left, ended with the ball at Amath’s feet. The Senegalese player got in between the two centre backs and beat ’keeper Alvaro Valles without problems to score his ninth goal of the season. He’s been out injured for three weeks and his return added a spark to our attack that has been missing. We had two more chances to double our lead when Alvaro Gimenez and Amath again came close. Las Palmas then had a chance but the shot from Benito Ramirez was easily saved by Manolo Reina.
Mallorca looked to be in cruise control but all that was about to change two minutes into the second half. Ex Real Madrid and PSG striker Jese (wearing the tightest shorts imaginable) set up Araujo who scored the goal that changed the match, 1-1. Once again Real Mallorca were punished for not killing the game off in the first half, if we’d doubled our lead the three points would have been in the bag.
Suddenly Las Palmas were all over us like a yellow rash and they didn’t look at all like a team who could be finishing mid-table. Jese began to torment our defence and the nerves began to jangle. Araujo then broke through and looked to have a clear run on goal. Somehow Martin Valjent got his tackle in and the chance was thwarted. It was a brilliant, match-saving intervention from the Slovakian internationalist.
Abdon and Mboula came on in the 90th minute and with his first touch Abdon’s rocket shot was scrambled away by Valles. In the end a draw was the outcome most Mallorquinistas were hoping for after Las Palmas put six past Lugo on Thursday.
In other important games, Espanyol were comfortable winners 0-3 away at bottom team Albacete. They lead the table with 67 points, we’re on 65 with Almeria third, five behind. They surprisingly lost at home 0-1 to Rayo Vallecano.
Shock result of the weekend was Mirandes who had 10 players and their coach missing with positive Covid tests. They beat fifth-placed Sporting Gijon 1-2, inflicting the first home defeat of the season on the Asturian side.
On Sunday the last ten games of the season arrived. It’s that time when our ex manager Luis Aragones, nicknamed El Sabio (wise man) de Horteleza, who had two one-year spells in 2000/01 and 2003/04 (in his first stint we finished third in La Liga behind Deportivo La Coruña, winners Real Madrid, and were eight points ahead of Barcelona), famously said that “Everything would be decided in these final 10 games. It’s a time when it’s hard to get good results because most teams have an agenda of either fighting for promotion or in a relegation dogfight. Success or failure is all about fine margins, be it head to head or goal difference finishes.”
Mallorca’s last nine games see five on the road: Castellon, Sabadell, Malaga, Tenerife and Ponferradina, and four at home : Lugo (next SUNDAY AT 18:15), Mirandes, Alcorcon and Zaragoza. On paper our run-in looks more appealing than that of our rival, hot on our heels, Almeria, who play table-topping Espanyol in a fortnight then play away at Sporting Gijon in the last game. Espanyol have in addition to Almeria got Leganes in Barcelona next weekend.
Mallorca’s football at the moment is hardly in the caviar bracket but if we don’t have another Fuenlabrada scenario, second place should be secured. Fingers crossed!
AND FINALLY, The Weakest Link quiz programme is being repeated on Challenge TV and I’ve been laughing at some of the answers from contestants. (1) Q: What is the name of the powdered tobacco that is sniffed through the nose? A: Cocaine. (2) Q: You step in it and it takes you up and down to different floors? A: Dog poo. (3) Q: Name a film starring Bob Hoskins that is also the name of a famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci? A: Who Framed Roger Rabbit. (4) Q: Bob and Earl and the Rolling Stones had big hits singing about the Harlem...what ? A: Globetrotters. (5) Q: Oscar Wilde, Adolf Hitler and Jeffrey Archer have written books about their experiences in what – prison or the Conservative Party? A: The Conservative Party. (6) King Robert I of Scotland was popularly known by what other name? A: Bob. (7) What is the highest mountain in Scotland and the United Kingdom? A: Ben Everest. (8) Q: Which stretch of water did comedian David Walliams swim across in 10 hours and 34 minutes? A: The Atlantic!