Wednesday, 1st of March, was the night Kevin-Prince Boateng almost became a Las Palmas legend. It was the night he led the modest side to the brink of derailing the title ambitions of Europe’s most successful club, Real Madrid.
The Canary Island team went into the game on the back of four straight losses and were not expected to provide any form of resistance to the leaders and their array of stars. But Los Blancos have been having their own crisis of confidence lately after losing just their second game of the season at Villarreal last Wednesday.
They took the lead comfortably with an Isco goal that was set up by Mateo Kovacic on eight minutes for what looked set to be another good run for Zinedine Zidane’s team. The hosts took their eyes off the ball and Las Palmas equalised two minutes later through Tana.
Things began to unravel for Madrid when Gareth Bale went into a stupid tackle on Jonathan Viera and proceeded to shove the forward in front of the referee. A yellow card turned into straight red and the Welsh star had to walk the ignoble path to an early shower on 47 minutes.
Like shark sensing blood, Las Palmas knew something had gone wrong with their hosts and they went into full attack mode.
Sergio Ramos conceded a penalty while attempting a block with his hands clenched to his torso but the referee pointed to the spot. Viera stepped up to convert for 2-1 on 56 minutes.
Then Boateng doubled the lead three minutes later to leave the hosts agitated as their title run almost seemed to be fizzling away. The Ghanaian made a swift run from the edge of his half in a counter-attacking move, leaving Marcelo for dead, and tapping it past on-rushing goalkeeper Jesus Navas before scoring into an empty goal to make it 3-1.
It was Boateng’s seventh La Liga goal this season, and could have been by far the most important if not for the resurgence of Madrid led by the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo, who came up with two late goals to deny the Islanders victory.
The draw halted Las Palmas’ losing streak and left them in 12th spot. While Madrid fell to second spot but have a game in hand.