Manzano in frustrating Mallorca return
Real Mallorca 1-1 Osasuna
La Liga, Jornada #23
Saturday 9th February 2013, kick-off 3pm GMT
Gregorio Manzano endured a frustrating return to the Real Mallorca dugout after his side was fortunate to record a draw against Osasuna, despite controlling most of the game. Los Bermellones failed to convert possession into shots on target and nearly paid the price after Lolo gave the visitors the lead with just 15 minutes to go. But a route one punt up the pitch from Dudu Aouate found Pedro Geromel to head over the goalkeeper in second half injury time.
Manzano was boosted before the game by the return of Israeli goalkeeper Dudu Aouate after missing the last two games through injury. Catalan midfielder Javi Márquez was also available for selection after La Liga’s appeal committee overturned his second yellow card last week which helped condemn Mallorca to a 3-0 away defeat to Real Sociedad and, ultimately, Joaquín Caparrós’ dismissal.
Mallorca switched back to a 4-2-3-1, unused for some time at home by Caparrós, with Pina and Márquez in the two defensive midfield roles ahead of winter signing Fernando Tissone. Before his departure, Caparrós wanted to switch to a 4-3-3 with Tissone providing the majority of defensive midfield support with Márquez and Pina in support, but with the latter two possessing more attacking freedom. But nevertheless, the home side started well, taking control of the game and creating the first signs of danger.
But this season has been a tiring one for Mallorca, and with fifteen minutes on the clock it seemed to be the case of ‘new coach, same old story’. From Osasuna’s first corner of the game, the ball was whipped in and found Rubén who climbed highest to head Osasuna in front. After a good few seconds, the referee reacted and blew for a foul against the defender after he jumped into his challenge with Dudu Aouate with his left elbow raised, catching the Israeli.
The home side’s first real chance was blown by Víctor Casadesús, who narrowly failed to get onto the end of a cross from left back Antonio Luna. But this doesn’t compare to the opportunity wasted by Giovani dos Santos in the closing stages of the first half.
The Mexican has had an indifferent start to his Real Mallorca career. Despite only being at the club since the summer’s transfer deadline day, his time on the island has been dogged by injuries which have in turn effected his form. But following the turn of the year, Giovani began to show more and more of his capability. So it would be fair to say he was looking under the weather today. Because as he burst through on goal, one-on-one with the goalkeeper, he fluffed his lines and sent the ball high and wide of the far post. 0-0 at half-time.
Home frustrations continued to grow in the second half with José Nunes and substitute Tomer Hemed firing over the crossbar. French winger Michael Pereira saw his deflected shot go inches wide of Fernández’s far post, as did Tomer Hemed again. Los Bermellones just couldn’t hit the target. As each minute ticked by, and as each chance went begging, you couldn’t help but feel the inevitable was coming against the struggling side. And it did, with 76 minutes on the clock.
Osasuna, who had a goal disallowed from their first corner of the game, had only their second corner of the match. But as the ball came in, Víctor Casadesús made no attempt whatsoever to challenge for the ball which gave defensive midfielder Lolo all the time and space he needed to head Osasuna in front. Mallorca stunned.
Once again it took a goal to actually wake Mallorca up, and from a Giovani free-kick from the left wing Tomás Pina was mightily unlucky to see his header well saved by Fernández. But this was certainly no time to celebrate a shot on target.
But with the game entering it’s second minute of stoppage time, with only three due, there was more late drama. A free-kick from Dudu Aouate, just inside his half, evaded the whole of the Osasuna defence and found Mallorca’s Brazilian central defender Pedro Geromel on the six yard line. The 27-year-old had a poor game, but was delighted to see his header loop over Fernández into the Osasuna goal to rescue a point for the home side.
Not that the drama was to stop there. As was the script against Atlético Madrid only a few weeks ago, Giovani played the nearly man in injury time again. The Mexican found himself with the ball behind the Osasuna defence and duly put the ball into the back of the net only for the referee to correctly blow his whistle for offside. Giovani had strolled just beyond the last defender.
The late drama and the control of possession cannot mask this result, however. At home to Osasuna, nothing less than all three points would be deemed as acceptable and Mallorca once again failed to achieve this. They have no one to blame other than themselves. There were no injuries. No red cards. No incorrect refereeing decisions. Just a team who look bound for la segunda.
The away side managed to score from both of their corners, albeit one being disallowed, whilst the home side didn’t even come close to converting from one of their twelve corners. Giovani’s poor performance was not epitomised by his inability to score one-on-one with the goalkeeper, nor his ability to remain onside. Instead, his performance was epitomised by the fact that, not once, but twice the Mexican swung a corner out of play curving back into the penalty area.
The inconvenient truth is that the problem was not Caparrós, and nor today was it Manzano. It is just a squad of players who aren’t good enough to save themselves from relegation. Manzano is facing the biggest challenge of his career to keep this Mallorca team up.
Osasuna, who currently lie in 17th place, stretch their lead over Mallorca to four points as they try themselves to climb out of the relegation dogfight. Los Bermellones are sinking further into the mire.
Real Mallorca (4-2-3-1): Aouate; Hutton (Hemed 45′), Nunes, Geromel , Luna; Márquez (Tissone 81′), Pina ; Nsue, Giovani, Pereira; Víctor (Alfaro 77′).
Substitutes: Calatayud (gk); Conceição, Kevin; Tissone, Martí, Alfaro; Hemed.
Goal: Geromel 90′.
Osasuna (4-2-3-1): Fernández; Bertrán, Rubén, Flaño, Damià ; Lolo (Arribas 88′), Silva ; Armenteros (Loe 85′), Oier, de las Cuevas (Álvaro Cejudo 69′); Nino.
Substitutes: Ricardo (gk); Arribas; Álvaro Cejudo, Nano, Loe; Llorente, Sola.
Goal: Lolo 76′.
Referee: Pedro Pérez Montero (ESP)
Stadium: Iberostar Estadi, Palma de Mallorca