A fast-paced and aggressive battle between Mallorca and Sevilla rewards its combatants with a point apiece at the Iberostar.
The opening ten minutes of the game were characterised by a fierce intensity from both sides, with a number of sly fouls setting the tone for what would turn out to be a very aggressive match. Sevilla’s early possession was let down by a lack of chances created in the final third, and Manzano’s men soon had difficulty retaining the ball as a Mallorca side reinvigorated by the unwelcome return of their old coach began to show real threat.
A break by Los Bermellones in the 15th minute resulted in the first goal of the game, which was also the first shot on target from either side. As Mallorca closed in around the box, a singularly poor defensive header gave the ball straight back to the Laudrup’s men, and a perfectly weighted looping cross from Castro was met by the sure head of Akihiro Ienaga, who fired the ball past the outstretched fingers of Javi Varas.
A period of scrappy, congested play followed Ianega’s goal, with the referee’s whistle sounding with increasing regularity as Sevilla began to take out their frustrations on the legs of Els Barralets. The ball was just not getting beyond the midfield of either side, and tempers began to flare further.
This congestion was broken up in the most dramatic fashion in the 30th minute when a sprinting Negredo was seemingly clipped on the heels by Ramis in the Mallorca penalty box: after a hasty discussion with the linesman, and surrounded by protesting Mallorca players, the referee awarded the penalty.
Negredo stepped up to take it, and casually rolled the ball into the bottom corner to claim his 12 La Liga goal of the season. Just a minute after his goal, Negredo showcased a truly ridiculous dive, which fooled no one but left everyone laughing, including the Sevilla man himself.
Mallorca’s response to Los Rojiblancos’ equaliser was emphatic: minutes before half time, an absolute rocket from De Guzman from 30 yards out left the 'keeper open mounted as the clean strike sailed into the bottom corner. The goal allowed Laudrup’s men to return uplifted to the dressing room clutching a one goal lead.
Sevilla came out for the second half with a new belief: a change in formation placing Rodri further forward clearly showed their renewed intent to not leave the Iberostar empty handed.
A handful of initial chances were fumbled, with an unbelievable miss from Negredo looping over the crossbar of an empty goal to the great dismay of his desperate team-mates. The impetus shifted back and forth between the two sides, until a defensive error, rather than attacking flair, gifted Sevilla a second equaliser.
An attempted save by Aoute was terribly fumbled, and the rebound went straight into the path of Rakitic, who slammed home a vital second goal for the Andaluz outfit. The game continued in the fiery manner with which it began until the very end, with both teams fighing with their all to take away a much needed victory. A draw will satisfy neither, but rewards the matching grit of both sides.
The draw lifted Sevilla fo fifth in the table, but still eight points behind Villarreal in the final Champions League spot, with a game in hand for the Yellow Submarine.