Real Mallorca had a triumphant return to professional Spanish football when they beat an injury-hit Osasuna 1-0 in front of a 9,500 crowd on Sunday night. A penalty converted by an omnipresent Abdon Prats on the stroke of half time gave Mallorca the perfect start to 2018/19 La Liga 2. Coach Vicente Moreno had more or less selected our promotion-winning line-up with the exception of new signing Carlos Costa, who again failed to impress. He was downed for the penalty, but at the moment the Asturian striker is looking to be far from meeting expectations.
With the typical first league game nerves being jangled on the pitch and amongst the crowd, Mallorca dominated the first half. We forced four corners in eight minutes in the first quarter and should have put at least three of the chances that went a-begging into the net. Osasuna looked well off the pace, caused in no uncertain terms by the fact that ten of the 18 players who travelled to Palma were from the B team. Goalkeeper Juan Perez was the Pamplona side’s third choice and he made at least three top saves in the first half.
Abdon Prats took all the plaudits on Sunday, he covered the channels, chased every loose ball and more importantly has gone up a yard in pace. Any thoughts about selling the Arta-born front man to possibly Racing Santander should be shelved immediately. He, for sure, is now our No. 1 striker and deservedly so. He’s also learned not to argue with the officials and that in itself has meant he’s a different player. The penalty was a clear-cut decision. Castro was bundled over in the penalty box and pedantic referee Jagoba Arrasate had no hesitation in awarding the spot kick. There was some discussion between Aridai, Lago Junior and Abdon Prats about who would take it but there was no doubt who would, Abdon grabbed the ball sending Perez the wrong way.
The second half was a different matter, Osasuna suddenly upped the tempo but their finishing was woeful. Moreno brought on Baba who, despite being wet behind the ears, again looked the business in midfield. As the game progressed, Mallorca’s defence became more and more predominant. With the clock running down, Osasuna brought on ex-Mallorca favourite Brandon Thomas who was clapped and jeered in equal measure. He did however give us a laugh before the game when he sat down by mistake on our bench.
With the final whistle imminent, Osasuna’s Nacho Vidal looked to have equalised with a spectacular (Chilean) overhead bicycle kick but the goal was ruled out for dangerous play - studs up. Mallorca held on for a morale-boosting opening game win. Next up we’re away in Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium where we’ll play rock bottom Rayo Majadahonda next Monday at 8 pm.
Mallorca produced an exceptional performance on Sunday in a match of high entertainment. We were firm in defence, solvent in midfield and incisive in attack. The win is another feather in the cap for coach Vicente Moreno who transmits pragmatism and clarity to the team, showing commitment with his touchline gesticulations. Veteran Salva Sevilla was dominant in midfield. Another outstanding player was Lago Junior, who covered every blade of grass on the Son Moix pitch.