Real Mallorca keep alive dreams of Europe
Real Mallorca 1-0 Levante
La Liga, Jornada #37
Saturday 5th May 2012, 8pm kick off BST
Real Mallorca crept into the European places in La Liga after they beat fellow European rivals Levante 1-0 at the Iberostar Estadi. The home side have recorded twelve points from a possible fifteen which now sees them in pole position for Europe.
The hosts controlled possession throughout but Levante, particularly in the first-half, threatened on the counter-attack and Mallorca were only level at the break thanks to Emilio Nsue’s goalline clearance from Petro Botelho’s effort.
Joaquín Caparrós’ side’s dominance was more controlled in the second period and they deservedly went in front as Chori Castro’s corner picked out Pina on the edge of the edge of the area and he steered the ball past Gustavo Munua. A fourth consecutive win means the Islanders are now ahead of Levante thanks to their better head-to-head record, but will need to win at the Bernabeu next weekend to guarantee Europa League football for next season.
Levante were again without top-scorer Arouna Koné after he missed Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to Real Zaragoza and the Ivorian’s presence in the final third was missed as the visitors’ gameplan to sit deep and counter-attack worked well in the first 45 minutes. A smart break allowed José Barkero to send Botelho through on goal after 13 minutes but, after the on-loan Arsenal winger had rounded Dudu Aouate, Nsue got back to block his goalbound effort.
Víctor Casadesús then came close to breaking the deadlock as he fired just over after the Levante defence did not properly clear Michael Pereira’s cross into the box, and Munua then came to the visitors’ rescue as he brilliantly blocked Alejandro Alfaro’s effort from point-blank range.
Mallorca upped the tempo after the break though and finally made the breakthrough nine minutes into the second-half as Castro’s clever corner found Pina in acres of space to pick his spot low into Munua’s left-hand corner.
The keeper reacted quickly to turn Nsue’s cross just out of Pereira’s path six minutes later as the hosts pushed for a second, however, they were nearly outdone with 13 minutes remaining as the ball broke to Barkero inside the area but he did not realise how much time he had and headed meekly into Aouate’s arms.
The bumper 17,250 crowd enjoyed the firework display at full time as the players celebrated in their final home game of the season. Mallorca looked like they had just won the league, but the victory takes them ahead of Levante and into sixth place on the head-to-head record. It means European qualification is in their own hands. Three points on Jornada #38 will seal a Europa League spot.
Next up? Champions Real Madrid at the Bernabéu.
Real Mallorca (4-2-3-1): Aouate; Nsue (Cendrós 80′), Chico, Martí Crespí, Cáceres; Pina, Martí; Pereira , Alfaro (Hemed 45′), Castro; Víctor (Marí 86′).
Substitutes: Calatayud (gk); Marí, Cendrós, Bigas; Tissone; Abdón, Hemed.
Goal: Pina 55′.
Levante (4-2-3-1): Munúa ; Javi Venta, Ballesteros (Serrano 90′), Navarro, López (Rubén Suárez 71′); Xavi Torres, Iborra (Juanlu 77′); Valdo, Barkero, Botelho ; Ghezzal.
Substitutes: Navas (gk); Juanfran; Farinos, El Zhar, Rubén Suárez, Juanlu, Serrano.
Referee: Ignacio Iglesias Villaneva (ESP)
Stadium: Iberostar Estadi, Palma de Mallorca