RCD Espanyol 1-2 Real Mallorca
Real Mallorca provided a shock on Jornada 26 in La Liga by beating RCD Espanyol at Estadi Cornellà-El Prat. Second half goals from Pierre Webó and Emilio Nsue overturned Espanyol’s lead handed to them by Álvaro early in the first half.
The return of Iván Ramis was overshadowed by the absences of Pep Martí and Jonathan de Guzmán. Michael Laudrup called upon former Chelsea youngster Sergio Tejera and Chori Castro to take on the vacant roles. But the surprise was in the decision to continue with Ayoze at left back instead of youth product Kevin García.
The away side started well, and after just seven minutes Pierre Webó was brought down in the area. Chori Castro’s resulting penalty, however, left a lot to be desired. His attempt just rolled towards Kameni in the Espanyol goal.
Los Bermellones’ luck went from bad to worse when they attempted an offside trap. Ayoze wasn’t on the same wavelength and failed to step forward in time allowing Álvaro to reach the through ball and put the Catalans 1-0 up leaving Laudrup scratching his head as to why Ayoze was included.
And just to rub salt into their fresh wounds, Mallorca had a goal unfairly ruled as offside. Kameni flapped at a cross and the ball was headed in only for José Nunes to be ruled as offside.
The second half was a different affair, however, with Mallorca pushing for the equaliser. And it soon came when a Sergio Tejera free-kick saw Webó nip in behind the Espanyol defence and power a header home to make it 1-1.
Espanyol introduced Molina and Dátolo in an attempt to turn the game back in their favour. It was certainly working as the legs of the away side looked tired. And with 11 minutes to go, with the front line looking fatigued and out of ideas, Laudrup – in a tactical masterstroke – brought on the fresh Aki for the (once again) ineffectual Castro. And what a difference he made.
Aki became the driving force behind Mallorca as their focuses changed from hanging on for a draw to getting all three points. With his first touch he played in Michael Pereira who smashed a left footed shot against the post as Mallorca stepped up a gear or two.
With just eight minutes to go, Ayoze, making up for his earlier error, played in Sergio Tejera who pulled the ball back for Aki. The Japanese winger shot at goal but Kameni managed to parry the ball away. But finally Mallorca’s fortunes turned as the ball dropped nicely for Emilio Nsue to slot home. Espanyol appealed for offside but the referee made the correct decision and ignored the calls.
Real Mallorca’s first win since November 2010 sends them temporarily back into the top half of the table on 34 points as safety from relegation looks more and more likely. The result will hopefully inspire the team ahead of their clash with Valencia at the Iberostar Estadi at the weekend. Valencia will be more than aware that their next game following Mallorca will be away to Schalke in the Champions League. Who knows what could happen.
RCD Espanyol (4-4-2): Kameni; Chica, Amat, Galán, López; Luís García (Molina 65), Duscher (Fonte 86), Verdú (Dátolo 76), Callejón; Álvaro, Sergio García.
Substitutes: Cristian Álvarez (gk); David García, Rodríguez, Víctor Álvarez; Dátolo; Molina, Fonte.
Goal: Álvaro 18.
Real Mallorca (4-2-3-1): Aouate; Cendrós, Nunes, Ramis, Ayoze; Tejera (Pina 83), João Victor; Nsue, Castro (Aki 79), Pereira; Webó (Rubén 90).
Substitutes: Lux (gk); Martí Crespí, Rubén, Kevin, Corrales; Pina, Aki.
Goal: Webó 63, Nsue 82.
Missed Penalty: Castro 8.