First Division - Day 18

Mallorca 4 - Alavés 3

Mallorca: Leo Franco; Olaizola, Nadal, Fernando Niño, Miguel Soler; Ibagaza, Marcos, Engonga (Francisco Soler 67'), Stankovic (Armando 80'); Eto'o, Luque (Novo 55'). 4-4-2.
Alavés: Herrera; Contra, Karmona, Téllez, Geli; Tomic (Iván Alonso 70'), Pablo; Astudillo, Jordi Cruyff, Magno (Djolonga 72'); Javi Moreno. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Mallorca: Stankovic, Luque for Finidi, Carlos / Alavés: Contra, Magno for Ibon Begoña, Desio.

1-0. 27. Marcos. After Luque cross from left which Eto'o stepped over.
1-1. 61. Tomic. Intercepted bad pass from Nadal to beat Leo Franco
2-1. 69. Ibagaza. Following up after Herrera parried shot from Nadal.
3-1. 80. Ibagaza. Stroked ball into net after defender blocked his first shot.
4-1. 82. Novo. Worked one two with Eto'o and beat keeper.
4-2. 85. Javi Moreno. Robbed ball from Olaizola and shot past Leo Franco.
4-3. 89. Javi Moreno. Beat two men down left wing, ran in and drove past keeper.

A high scoring match with a sting in the tail at the San Moix stadium as Alavés came back from 4-1 down with two late goals to give the home supporters a late fright. Both teams are riding high in the table, although the two managers were not satisfied with recent results and came in to the game looking for a win. Mallorca had drawn four out of the last five, and with Finidi on international duty with Nigeria, found room to bring in Stankovic, with Ibagaza switching to the right wing and Luque returning from injury to join Eto'o up front. Alavés had dropped out of the European spots having lost their last four away games, and with Ibon Begoña and Desio both serving a one match ban, Mané brought in Contra (returning from his one match suspension) and Magno. The diminutive Brazilian was lucky to play in the end, being so small that no-one noticed when he missed the plane, and he had to catch a connecting flight to catch up with his teammates.

The star of the match though was another short*rse, Caño Ibagaza, who together with Samuel Eto'o was a constant nightmare for the Alavés defence, especially in the second half as Alavés tired. The Argentinian scored twice in a twelve minute period after Alavés had levelled the scores through Tomic, firstly in pure striker mode tapping the ball home after Herrera could only push out Nadal's free kick, and then coolly collecting the ball after his first shot had been blocked to walk it round Herrera and find the corner of the net. In fact six of the seven goals came in the last half hour of the game, with four in a frantic last ten minutes. Novo got Mallorca's fourth only two minutes after Ibagaza's second, Eto'o's contribution vital as he laid the ball back for the youngster to score. But then Javi Moreno delighted the watching talent spotters, which included West Ham manager Harry Redknapp, with two typical goals, firstly robbing Olaizola to run on and beat Leo Franco, and then driving a shot through the keeper's legs after winning the ball on the left and beating three men. Redknapp's hand was already on his chequebook before the game ended, and a formal offer at the nine million euro buy out asking price was on Mané's desk by the beginning of the week. Alavés are unlikely to want to sell however, as the league's top scorer took his tally to eighteen in all competitions, almost half of the team's 42 for the season.

Magno had hit the post in the opening minutes for the visitors before Marcos had opened the scoring, Luque beating two men down the left wing before swinging over a cross which Eto'o cleverly stepped over leaving the midfielder free to drive the ball home. The Camerooni striker was on top form, having a hand in three of the goals, and was unlucky not to score himself with a header just wide in the first half. Olaizola too hit the post with a header in the second half, but in the end Luis Aragonés was happy just to pick up the three points, his team having thrown away the lead in many games this season. Mallorca stay fifth, and the win distances them from one of their rivals for the European spots this season, the Vitoria side dropping to tenth after losing their last three games.