Granada 1-2 Real Mallorca
La Liga, Jornada #26
Sunday 3rd March 2013, kick-off 11am GMT
Real Mallorca came from behind to record a dramatic win over Granada in Los Cármenes. Alejandro Alfaro’s second goal of the season and Hemed’s first since November with the last touch of the game canceled out Nolito’s eighth minute opener for the home side to help Mallorca to only their second win five months.
Gregorio Manzano raised a few eyebrows prior to kick-off with his team selection. Anderson Conceição, who has had a torrid time in the first team and was at fault for two of Getafe’s three goals last week, was given the nod to replace injured Pedro Geromel ahead of Pedro Bigas and Catalan centre back Andreu Fontàs, who didn’t even make the bench despite being included in the squad.
That was the only change to the lineup with veterans Pep Martí and Víctor Casadesús keeping their places in the 4-3-3 formation, despite healthy competition from Javi Márquez and Tomer Hemed respectively. The coach seemingly opting for experience and calm in the panicked situation Los Bermellones find themselves.
That calm wasn’t evident at kick-off though as Granada controlled the opening stages. And they were in front with barely eight minutes on the clock. After sustained pressure, a cross from right back Juanma Ortiz found winger Nolito completely unmarked from ten yards. Nunes and Conceição could only watch on as Nolito’s header sailed past them and goalkeeper Dudu Aouate to leave Mallorca with that sinking feeling again.
Mallorca were shell shocked and looked to be on the ropes as they immediately faced another couple of Granada attacks until they finally cleared the ball. The Granada defence picked the ball up before the hard working Giovani stole it back off them. The Mexican drove down the left before playing the ball across goal. The ball rolled past Toño, Siqueira and López before reaching Alejandro Alfaro at the back post to slot home from six yards. Instant and incredibly vital response by Mallorca, 1-1 with 12 minutes on the clock.
With Mallorca’s recent fortune of poor refereeing decisions, albeit mainly accounted for by Fernando Teixeira Vitienes, there were bound to be some nerves over the official for this game. And if there was to be a sign that José González González was about to have a good game, it was when Antonio Luna needed a bit of fortune not to see red.
The ball, falling from the air, had Luna’s left boot flying towards it. But Granada’s Diego Bounanotte was also working his way towards the ball. And rather than volleying the ball, Luna instead volleyed a chunk out of Bounanotte. Considering the violence of the collision, the left back held his breath to see what card the referee would produce. Recognising the accidental nature of the clash, González González instead showed Luna the yellow for dangerous play.
Other than Nolito being denied a second late in the half after Aouate got down well to save, neither side really got close to taking the lead. The teams went in at the break with the game finely poised at 1-1, with Granada just tipping the balance of the play.
But into the second half and Granada started brighter again. And when a quick free-kick saw Anderson Conceição step out of defence to try and play the offside trap, it looked like the Brazilian was to be at fault for another goal. That poor decision allowed Aranda plenty of time in space to get a shot in on goal despite José Nunes’ attempt to recover. But Aranda demonstrated the profligacy of Víctor Casadesús and could only steer his shot into the side netting. This was his first miss of several.
Mallorca looked to be fading with Granada getting closer and closer in their search of a goal. And when another through ball opened up the Mallorca defence, Ighalo found himself through on goal. Aouate and Conceição both managed to get enough of a touch on the ball to make the striker lose control of the ball. Ighalo seemed to panic and, although he managed to get a left footed shot away, he could only direct it over the open goal from 12 yards.
The away side’s first real chance of the second half came just after the hour mark. On what had turned into a rare counter attack, the ball bounced into the Granada area from the Mallorca right. It sat up nicely for Víctor Casadesús to strike a volley from 12 yards. Despite catching the ball well, Víctor hit it at a nice height for Toño. This shouldn’t take away from what turned out to still be a very good save by the goalkeeper. Although Víctor will know that his shot should’ve been heading for the bottom corner to give Toño no chance.
Despite the introduction of Tomer Hemed for the ineffectual Víctor Casadesús, Mallorca still failed to make any difference in the final third. With a pass completion of just 66%, the away side’s attempted counter attacks would break down rather quickly with a poor pass.
Israeli striker Hemed did begin to make a difference though, and when he did get onto the end of a through ball he got a scuffed shot away. Toño managed to get enough of a limb to the ball to deflect it onto the post and Hemed could only to steer his rebound into the side netting from a tight angle. It wasn’t to be Hemed’s only contribution to this game, however.
Against Osasuna and Valencia the story had been about Mallorca wasting several opportunities from corners intertwined with conceding a goal as soon as you concede a corner. But today was a different story.
In the third of four minutes of second half injury time Mallorca, after facing 7 Granada corners, had their first of the game. Giovani dos Santos, who had worked hard putting in another good performance, whipped the ball in. Tomer Hemed rose above the Granada defence to direct a header at goal. Toño got a hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out as it dropped over the line to give Mallorca the lead right at the death.
It was the Israeli’s first goal since November, but his eighth of the campaign proved to be the most important so far. Because the referee didn’t even give Granada chance to restart before blowing the full time whistle. A vital three points for Mallorca.
Perhaps the most pleasing thing about this result, other than the obvious, is the little ‘l’ word that came with it. Because following glimpses of potential in each of Manzano’s opening few games, this was without question their worst performance. But Mallorca certainly had that little bit of luck on their side which allowed Manzano to secure his first win since returning to the Los Bermellones bench.
There is still work to do, when Granada rather than Barcelona have 63% of possession then there are problems, but we will take points over performances for the rest of the season. And with it being another late goal for Mallorca, this will play into psychologist Manzano’s motivational plan. The joy on the players’ faces were clear to see, after training through the week with words such as trust, commitment, friendship, ambition and heart emblazoned on their bibs.
Real Mallorca climb closer to the rest of the pack, moving to within four points of safety. Sevilla will now play a very big part on how the relegation battle will look next weekend. Eighteenth placed Celta Vigo still have a game in hand on Mallorca, as they travel to Seville for Monday night’s game. That is before Sevilla travel to Palma to face Mallorca at the Iberostar Estadi next Saturday (9pm GMT).
Granada (4-4-2): Toño; Ortiz, Mainz, López, Siqueira; Buonanotte (Torje 86′), Rico, Recio, Nolito (Brahimi 65′); Aranda, Ighalo (El Arabi 72′).
Substitutes: Roberto (gk); Angulo, Gómez; Torje, Brahimi, Iriney; El Arabi.
Goal: Nolito 8′.
Real Mallorca (4-3-3): Aouate; Hutton , Nunes, Conceição, Luna ; Pina, Tissone (Márquez 80′), Martí; Alfaro (Pereira 86′), Víctor (Hemed 70′), Giovani.
Substitutes: Calatayud (gk); Bigas, Kevin; Pereira, Nsue, Márquez; Hemed.
Goals: Alfaro 12′; Hemed 90′.
Referee: José González González (ESP)
Stadium: Los Cármenes, Granada