1-2: A victory of character
Espanyol beat Mallorca in a very serious and competitive match in which they had to fight until the end
The matches between Mallorca and Espanyol have a history of tension, intensity and some impatience between the two sides. Over the years, this has turned into blatant rivalry and tense encounters. And this match was not going to be anything less. Mallorca was highly anticipating the match against Espanyol. Highly. Even from a mathematical point of view: the chance of leaving your most direct rival eight points behind at the start of the second half of the season would leave too much of a sweet taste in the mouth to not wonder how it would taste. In any case, what was seen on the pitch were the ingredients expected from both teams. The home side rises as a result of their midfield possession and approaches the opposing end with many finishers. In contrast, and with that knowledge, Espanyol had to stop those moves and show their quality deep into their opponent’s half.
As a result of these strategies, both teams finished the first half with two clear opportunities at each end. Ndiaye's two chances were denied by Diego López. Darder’s opportunity flew over the bar, and Puado's header from a free kick on the wing sent the ball past Reina into the goal. The 0-1 scoreline allowed the blues and whites to comfortably control the last few minutes of the first half during the home side’s last push forward.
Espanyol came out better in the second half and Miguelón forced Reina to show off his talent within the first minute. Everything seemed to be under control when Antonio Sánchez stopped the ball dead at Ndiaye's feet next to the penalty spot, and scored upon their third attempt.
The one all draw opened the doors to a new match that could have went either way. It required a cool head, but hearts were racing because the match was there for the taking.
Attacking play by the home side was followed by a blue and white replica in which RDT supplied Embarba along the wing to assist Dimata inside the box. His finish was indisputable and reached the back of the net. 1-2. And new hopes.
That goal put Mallorca out of sync. Dimata had another opportunity (and was involved in a possible penalty near the end), but it wasn’t to be. There was still another chance to come for Puado who collided with Oliván's leg close to the goal line.
In the end, Espanyol took the three points from Mallorca in a very strategic and tactical match with alternatives in the game, and which served to reduce the advantage that ‘los bermellones’ (the vermilions) had.
*Translated by Montero Language Services.