Mallorca played out a 2-2 draw against CD Tenerife last night in a game that has sparked much discussion over whether the result is a point gained towards the play offs or two thrown carelessly away. Having had a two goal lead with little over twenty minutes remaining, Mallorca were pegged back in dramatic scenes, leaving once more a sense of disappointment on their travels.
On the face of it all, a two goal lead away from home looks to be an improvement in fortunes for Mallorca, so often beaten on their travels this season. However, the manner of the result will have left supporters under no illusions that whilst a rare double was put on the score sheet away from Son Moix, and another precious point gained, the performance really showed little demonstrable progress. The side were second best throughout and, were it not for the frequent heroics of Manolo Reina in goal, the scoreline would have been a much uglier one.
Despite that, it initially looked as if last night the narrative would be different. Starting confidently and committing more players forward than usual away from the island, Mallorca threatened. Before Pervis Estupiñan’s opening goal, Mallorca threatened early on with Ariday Cabrera missing the target with a header from close range. In what was to prove more telling though in the story of the game, Estupiñan picked up a very early booking for a late challenge inside the CD Tenerife half, an unnecessary foul so far from goal which left him walking a tightrope for the remainder.
Mallorca continued to foray forwards, sometimes leaving themselves a little open at the back. However, attack is sometimes the best form of defence, and this proved to be the case when Lago Junior pulled a cross out of the sky inside the box and laid it back to the advancing Estupiñan, who curled in first time into the bottom corner of the goal. The first goal was crucial, or at least it should have been.
Mallorca, so often used to going behind it games away from home now had a lead, something to hold on to, something to protect and something to fight for. Perhaps though this became part of their problem, so unaccustomed to being ahead away from home they sat back and seemed to get deeper and deeper as the half went on, inviting pressure. Fortunately for them, Reina was equal to the numerous balls being swung into the box, mopping up well and saving a one vs one opportunity. Aridai spurned another good chance on the break, one on one with the goalkeeper, unable to slide it past. The level of pressure that Mallorca were suffering was not sustainable though, despite managing to frantically hold on until half time.
It was clear that changes were needed at half time, tactically or substitutions. CD Tenerife were putting a lot of pressure on Estupiñan down the Mallorca left, aware that he was one silly foul away from leaving the side with ten men. Despite playing three central midfielders, CD Tenerife seemed to be able to stroll through the middle of the pitch time and time again and attack Raillo and Valjent almost without challenge.
Despite this no changes came at the break, but what did change was the margin of Mallorca’s lead. From nowhere Ante Budimir was gifted a goal when, after putting on the pressure, the goalkeeper slipped and presented him with an open goal. Mallorca’s luck seemed to be turning away from Son Moix. Surely against a team who were so shy of goals they would not relinquish a two goal advantage in the next 40 minutes?
Mallorca continued to present CD Tenerife with opportunities to get back into the game. The number of crosses being allowed to rain in on the Mallorca box was starting to turn the screw in terms of pressure. The fact that players were being allowed free headers inside the box did not inspire those watching with confidence and with more accuracy, Tenerife would have pulled a goal back sooner. From one of these balls into the box it wasn’t won cleanly by Mallorca and the resulting loose ball was turned home by Tenerife. Now the lead was only one and all of the momentum was in favour of the home side.
Moreno seemingly decided that it was time to try to get a grip of the midfield, with Baba replacing Pedraza. However, this made little difference in Mallorca’s ability to stop the constant flow of attacks and Tenerife looked like they might create a chance on goal every time they attacked.
The game started to become a very tense affair, Mallorca desperate for the win and fighting hard, with CD Tenerife becoming frustrated. A strong referee was needed in order to calm the game and take the sting out of the game but unfortunately, as is often the case, the referee only contributed to the panic felt by both sides and was losing control. First Dani Rodriguez was kicked to the ground and then stood over by Tenerife players as he lay prostrate awaiting treatment. This led to a nothing incident moments later where Estupiñan came together with a Tenerife player who threw himself to the ground and the referee seemed to take delight in handing Estupiñan his second yellow card of the game. As is becoming the trend recently, Mallorca seem unable to complete games with 11 on the field and the Mallorca players must show more discipline, knowing that they must not give even the smallest excuse to referees to be able to show a second yellow card.
To add insult to injury, moments later Lago Junior was stood on whilst on the floor, an incident totally missed by the referee, and seemingly by the Tenerife fan who decided to aim a full water bottle at the player from the stand. Fortunately followed the example of the Tenerife strikers for the majority of the game as his throw was off target.
Mallorca were in survival mode now and there was almost an inevitability about the equalising goal that was to come. Yet again, the defence failed to deal with a high ball into the box and, from the resulting knock down, Baba turned his back on the attacker who fired home, with the help of a deflection.
The manner of the draw was demoralising for Mallorca having taken a two goal lead and they must be wondering on the flight home today whether another away win will come this season if they can’t take advantage of the situation they found themselves in last night. In truth though, the result was not unfair on Mallorca and on another day CD Tenerife had enough clear opportunities to win the game. When your best performer is your goalkeeper then you have to be happy with a point.
In light of Mallorca’s problems on the road they should see this as a point gained rather than two lost, but it is a result that does nothing to take the pressure off them at Son Moix. Their form at home has been nothing short of remarkable and it seems that it will need to remain that way if the side has any slim hope of making 6th position. Moreno has big questions to answer about his coaching abilities away from Son Moix and they are questions that he will need to answer if he is to take the team to the next level.