180 Minutes Away
By Charles Nutter
Real Mallorca have two games against Deportiva la Coruna in the final of the play offs to secure a place in La Liga next season. The first game is away in Galicia this Thursday the 20th of June and the home leg on Sunday the 23rd with a 9pm kick off. At the time of writing huge queues were forming at the Son Moix Stadium in Palma for tickets. The attendance is expected to be the largest for a number of years, since Mallorca lost their place in the top division 6 years ago.
In the semi final home leg the islanders overcame Albacete 2 – 0 . Head coach Vicente Moreno wasn’t able to count on striker Budimir and winger Aridai because of injury. Their replacements were involved in the opening goal on 22 minutes when striker Abdon Prats played a superb pass inside the fullback for diminutive Leo Suarez to calmly slot home the goal. Mallorca had set off at a furious pace and pegged the visitors back although Albacete had a very legitimate claim for an early penalty waved away by the referee Pulido Santana from Las Palmas. Mallorca broke away and Suarez was clearly brought down in the visitors area and again the referee ignored it. When he left the pitch at half time he was surrounded by players from both teams and booed roundly by both sets of fans. Not a popular man!
Albacete didn’t have a single shot on goal and seemed content to settle for a one nil defeat in the hopes of overturning that in the return match. They resorted to play acting, simulating fouls and blatant time wasting. Silver fox Salva Sevilla in midfield wasn’t having his usual impact and Dani Rodriguez playing against his former team took up the mantle. Time after time he drove at the visitors without any end product. With just two minutes left he struck an unstoppable half volley into the top corner to send the 16,000 fans into raptures.
In the second leg Mallorca started in impressive form, again pushing the home side backwards. Albacete were awarded a dubious free kick on 15 minutes and Jeremie Bela fired it home. In truth the islanders’ defensive wall was poorly constructed and keeper Manolo Reina could probably have done better. Manolo is a very strong character and in the second half he pulled off two world class saves to maintain his side’s advantage. Mallorca were the better team after the break and home keeper, Manacor born Tomeu Nadal, prevented an equaliser on three separate occasions.
Albacete did throw the kitchen sink at the islanders in the last five minutes and it was agonising to watch but Moreno’s team justifiably came out on top over the two legs. The players celebrated in front of over 600 travelling fans.
All eyes are now on the game on Thursday with the mouth watering second leg to come. This team has achieved more than was thought possible at the start of the season and fans are holding their heads high again.