|RCD Mallorca (4)||Valencia (1)|
|Antonio Raillo 7′|
Ante Budimir 22′, 41′
Dani Rodríguez 79′
|Ferran Torres 82′|
It was the perfect opportunity for Valencia to reel in Atlético Madrid and Sevilla, who both lost on Saturday, in the top four battle. A win would have closed the gap to one point, but Los Che somehow contrived to lose 1-4 against Real Mallorca.
The visitors came into the match flying high – with 11 points in their last five games, they were LaLiga’s form side. And coming up against 18th-placed Mallorca, who were winless in six, it should have been a breeze. Instead, the Bats got their wings clipped by the merciless Los Bermellones at a rain-soaked Son Moix Stadium.
Within five minutes of kick-off, everything went downhill. Despite winning the ball, Dani Parejo was adjudged to have committed a foul just under 30 yards out and was handed a yellow card. Veteran midfielder Salva Sevilla proceeded to whip in a free kick that was headed in by an unmarked Antonio Raillo.
The downpour seemed to have washed away all footballing sense from Valencia. Mallorca’s rampaging attack caused all sorts of chaos, and when the ball finally broke free for Francis Coquelin to clear, he chose to dribble out rather than boot it away. Dani Rodríguez nicked the ball and hit a cross-shot that was turned in by Ante Budimir’s left knee. Yes, his knee.
While defence was asleep for the first two goals, Los Che could not have stopped the third even if the players were wide awake. A slick passing play straight out of the Pep Guardiola book of tiki-taka between Lago Júnior and Sevilla released Budimir, who floored Mouctar Diakhaby with a shimmy before rifling in a sizzler. Only 41 minutes had elapsed. Felt like 10,000 years.
Any hopes of a comeback were doused when Parejo was dismissed – Valencia’s sixth red of the season – for a second yellow in the 51st minute despite again winning the ball. The captain will be unavailable against Barcelona next week.
Against 10 men, Mallorca had all the time and space to play and Rodríguez fired in a rocket outside the box in the 79th minute from Budimir’s lay off to make it four. Substitute Ferran Torres slotted in a consolation goal three minutes later.
“It’s a heavy defeat that doesn’t leave us feeling good,” said coach Albert Celades, whose team only had one shot on target. “This team, who have always had a very good ability to react to adversity and difficulties in many games, found it very hard to react today.”
He probably had less diplomatic words for his players in the dressing room. Performances like this do not deserve Champion League nights. Valencia need to regroup fast – a tough week lies ahead starting with their Copa del Rey defence before a daunting visit by league champions Barcelona.