RCD Mallorca put in a frustrating performance and returned from the mainland with nothing this weekend, falling to a 3-2 defeat away at bottom side Cordoba CF. Despite serving up a grand stand finish that offered hope, it was ultimately too little too late.
Two weeks previously, RCD Mallorca fans visited Las Palmas hoping for anything but expecting nothing. That day they took all 3 points against all expectations. Yesterday, the results were reversed and all optimism and momentum behind the RCD Mallorca promotion push seems to have been lost, for now at least.
The weekend’s results had once again been kind by the time RCD Mallorca kicked off. They knew that with Granada losing, Albacete and Malaga both being held at home, they had a golden opportunity to make real progress and solidify their place in the top six. Cadiz had the privilege of a free weekend and 3 points for their game against Reus, as RCD Mallorca will next weekend.
It was the perfect time for RCD Mallorca to put two away wins together for the first time this season. However, quite the opposite transpired with RCD Mallorca turning in the kind of performance that showed exactly why their away form is so poor and why they are hanging onto the coat-tails of the top six rather than pushing for an automatic place.
Despite there being 28 points between the sides at the beginning of the game, any casual observer would have presumed that it was Cordoba CF who were in the higher position. They came out of the traps quickly, pushing forwards and attacking, looking to get an early goal. As stated in my preview, Cordoba CF have had plenty of goals in them this season, and they wouldn’t disappoint in that regard.
It took Cordoba CF only 4 minutes to open the scoring, through number 9 Federico Piovaccari. Joan Sastre and Antonio Raillo were both pulled out of position and further across than they would have liked as Cordoba got the ball to the by-line. Piovaccari saw the space and arrived late to slot home the low cross with Martin Valjent not managing to close the space quick enough. RCD Mallorca had given themselves an uphill task in what should have been a winnable game.
Cordoba CF had their tails up and smelt blood, attacking at will under little challenge from the RCD Mallorca midfield. Far too often they were allowed to stroll through the midfield into dangerous positions. Everything was happening down the RCD Mallorca right in both attack and defence.
Sastre was a very busy man bombing up and down but overall didn’t have one of his best game, allowing too many crosses whilst his own often lacked the necessary accuracy. Leo Suarez was largely anonymous in the first half and it was unclear where he was supposed to be playing. If it was central then the line up was very lopsided, if wide then he was usually absent and not supporting Sastre going forwards or backwards.
RCD Mallorca started to come into the game more, seemingly waking up a little late, their clocks clearly not put forwards an hour over night to Central European Summer Time. Ante Budimir fed the ball wide to Estupiñan whose low cut back cross found Budimir, busting a gut to get into the box. Budimir’s strike went just wide. Moments later, after Dani Rodriguez was fouled right on the edge of the box, Salva Sevilla drew a good save from the goalkeeper down low.
This week’s comedy officiating decision came when Salva crossed from the resulting corner, it was headed back to him by a Cordoba CF player without a Mallorcan in sight and the linesman gave him offside. You just have to wonder exactly what they are watching at times.
Just before half time Suarez finally got himself into the game, but in the worst possible way. After initially failing to clear, Suarez found himself the wrong side of the Cordoba CF striker and, despite being covered well by Sastre he decided to nonsensically clip his heels from behind when the ball isn’t there to be won. The referee won’t have an easier decision to make all season.
Vermillion fans sense that the game is gone, but from the resulting spot kick, Miguel De Las Cuevas smashed it high and wide, missing not only the target but perhaps the stadium at the same time. A serious let off for RCD Mallorca and a huge blow to the confidence of Cordoba CF as the half approaches.
Seemingly rattled, Cordoba CF look to be contemplating the what ifs and RCD Mallorca almost take advantage. A game of ping pong breaks out in the Cordoba CF box and when the ball settles it falls to Dani who smashes it wide from six yards. RCD Mallorca confidence seems to be growing and Cordoba need half time, picking up two bookings in the space of five minutes for desperate challenges.
Changes were needed at half time and Vicente Moreno did just that with Baba, struggling pre-game with illness, making way for Aridai. Leo Suarez slotted into the number 10 role with Dani dropping back slightly and Aridai on the right. Moreno had signalled his attacking intent and was here to win.
The immediate result was that RCD Mallorca dominated more of the ball than they had in the first half with Cordoba CF sitting in to protect their lead. The flow of the game was constantly interrupted by cynical time wasting from Cordoba CF as early as 54 minutes. At one point even the goalkeeper went down with cramp. The flow of RCD Mallorca’s attacking game wasn’t helped by the fact that Budimir was continually offside.
With 15 minutes and no change in the scoreline, Moreno signalled his intent once more with another roll of the dice from the substitutes bench. After his goal last Monday, Abdon Prats came on for the ineffective Suarez making it 2 up front. The impact was immediate with RCD Mallorca almost scoring from a cross from the right, before a carbon copy seconds later was brought down by Lago Junior who squared it to Aridai to finish.
Seldom does a substitution have such an immediate impact, but this one could be measured in seconds. The tactical switch gave Cordoba CF another body to mark in the middle, shifting the entire defence across and affording more space in the wide areas to allow the crosses. Cordoba CF didn’t react tactically quick enough and RCD Mallorca took full advantage. Replays showed questions over Lago being offside but the goal stood and the men in red did not care, Moreno rewarded for his attacking intent.
RCD Mallorca were back in the game, but not for long. Within six minutes, Cordoba CF return to the lead after slack defending from the Mallorcan defence. A cross from deep on the right hand side, despite being surrounded by three red shirts, resulted in a free header for Piovacarri who picked up his second. Raillo, who is supposed to be marking him, was terribly out of position, not goal side, not even marking a player who was stood all alone inside the six yard box.
Momentum was back with Cordoba CF and it is RCD Mallorca’s turn to be rattled. Lazy passes and weak challenges follow with Cordoba CF allowed to stroll across the front of the RCD Mallorca box and De Las Cuevas redeemed himself for his penalty miss in the most emphatic of fashions, smashing it into the top far corner from outside of the box. Whilst the quality of the strike cannot be disputed, what can be is the lack of pressure on the ball and lack of a challenge despite there being 8 red shirts in close proximity.
Moreno’s frustration on the bench had reached it’s limit and the 4th official summoned over the referee who dismissed Moreno to the bench for something he has said. Moreno was clearly incensed with some of the decisions his team had suffered, but also the reasoning behind his removal.
Ten minutes to go and all looked lost, but the never say die attitude of Abdon Prats got his side back into it. Having flicked the ball on to Budimir, he then got into the box and bundled home the rebound from a low cross that had come back off the post. 3-2, surely too late for a comeback?
Cordoban time wasting had been well noted by the referee and he awarded 6 minutes of stoppage time for RCD Mallorca to find themselves an equaliser. Find it they almost did, when the ball fell to Lago inside the box and he fired it towards goal, rattling the bar. From the deflection the ball fell immediately back to RCD Mallorca and from the resulting cross Abdon had the opportunity top tap home from a matter of yards. He deflected it towards the goal but up and over the bar when it seemed to be easier to score.
Ultimately, it was too little too late and the side were made to suffer for the dreadfully poor start in the first half and conceding an early goal. How many times have we said that away from Son Moix this season? Cordoba were battling for their lives but, having pegged them back to 1-1 after the poor first half, RCD Mallorca should not have been letting go of that point, let alone giving their opponents a two goal advantage.
Perhaps when RCD Mallorca equalised in the 60th minute their mentality wasn’t right and the complacency set it. Maybe Morenos’ gung ho substitutions that got them back into the game became their downfall. Whatever it was, to concede two goals in quick succession directly following getting back level was disappointing in the extreme. They may argue that a change in shape left them defensively unbalanced, but in truth the goals that were conceded were through individual errors and poor decisions. Too may players were below par in what was one last important push before a two week break.
What cannot be doubted is the effort of this team, it has been evident all season. There are a number of players who have played almost every game this season and that is sure to take it’s toll. The two week break comes at just the right time. Time to rest, recuperate and come back strong for the next challenge, home to Numancia, the beginning of 9 more cup finals.