Perhaps surprisingly, new signing Ivan Ramis started the game in the centre of defence against his former club whom he left just four days ago. Martinez had his team set up in exactly the same way that was so successful towards the latter end of last season. The only absentee from the defence was Maynor Figueroa who had been excused playing in this game due to his Olympics involvement. Ramis was the man to benefit from Figgy’s absence.
The home side started the game like a house on fure and Franco Di Santo had the ball in the Mallorca net after just five minutes, but the goal was disallowed as the referee insisted that Shaun Maloney’s cross from a corner kick had strayed behind the line before Di Santo ‘scored’.
Both teams were playing beautiful expressive football and Di Santo was unlucky when a rasping shot was tipped over the crossbar by Mallorca custodian Dudu Aouate in the tenth minute. Jean Beausejour and Victor Moses began to stamp their dominance on the game whilst Ramis also looked comfortable on the ball, always looking for an opportunity to start an attacking move which bodes well for the season ahead.
Michael Pereira was proving to be a thorn in the Latics side and both Ali Al Habsi and Gray Caldwell were kept busy defending his crosses into the box. Jordi Gomez looked dominant in the middle of the park by the half hour mark, so much so that he had picked up a booking in the 23rd minute for what could be described as an over enthusiastic tackle.
Dudu had to be sharp to deny Di Santo once again in the 31st minute, but Latics were not having it all their own way and that man Peieira was continuing to pump crosses into the box efveytime he got hold of the ball.
The Spaniards had gotten wise to the fact that Di Santo was clearly the dangerman for the Blues and as the first half was drawing to a close he became the victim of some rather hefty tackling from the visitors, but with Boselli warming up on the touchline things still looked rosy for the Blues.
The visitors brought on Pablo Mari for Jose Nunes with a minute to go and he was quickly followed off the field by his former team mate Ramis, who was replaced by Piscu shortly before referee Martin Atkinson brought the first half to a close with the Spaniards fortunate to go for the break on a level footing with their hosts.
Roberto Martinez decided to replace Emmeron Boyce with Ronnie Stam and Franco Di Santo for Mauro Boselli for the start of the first half, whilst Mallorca manager.Joaouin Capparos, left things as they were.
The changes may or may not have affected the hosts rhythm, but within five minutes of the restart Mallorca went ahead courtesy of a great strike from Victoe Casadesus whose thunderous right footed volley gave Ali Al-Habsi no chance in the Wigan goal.
The goal seemed to galvanise the hosts and Moses and Beausejour once again began to dominate things in midfield aided and abetted by Gomez who was working tirelessly alongside James McCarthy.
With the hour mark looming the game once again became scrappy but it seemed like the same old problem of failing to hit the back of the net would cost Latics this game, despite the vast tly superior possession stats that will be bandied around later.
Shaun Maloney was unlucky with 65 minutes on the clock following good work from Beausejour and shortly afterwards Spanish danger man Pereira and Tomer Hemed were replaced by Alejandro Alfaro and Alvaro Giminez.
The game then became very patchy caused mainly by Capparos introducing an extra two substitutions at strategic points in the game. With ten minutes remaining Latics began pressing for the equalizer in earnest but the fresh legs of Victor almost put the visitors two goaldss to the good, but Al-Habsi was on hand to deny him by tipping his shot around the post.
This was just a reprieve though as with just six minutes of the game the visitors did indeed double their lead courtesy of a fine strike from Kevin Garcia after the defence went to sleep and were exploited by Garcia and Enrich in the build up.
Too little too late, Martinez brought on Fraser Fyvie for James McCarthy after 86 minutes, but the former Aberdeen wonder kid didn’t have enough time on the ball for the home faithful to form too much of an opinion of his capabilities. The game then petered out and the few thousand in attendance, including a very vociferous Mallorca supporter in the directors box made their way home having witnessed a half decent game of football on the whole.
WIGAN ATHLETIC, Ali Al Habsi, Emmerson Boyce, (Ronnie Stam 46), Ivan Ramis, (Piscu 45), Gary Caldwell Antolin Alcaraz, Jean Beausejour, James McCarthy, (Fraser Fyvie 86), Jordi Gomez, Shaun Maloney, Victor Moses, Franco Di Santo, (Mauro Boselli 46). Subs not used, Mike Pollitt, Roman Golobart, Danny Redmond, Nouah Dicko
Booked, Jordi Gomez 24 mins
REAL MALLORCA, Dudu Aouate, Tomas Pina, (Joao Victor 74), Antonio Lopez, Michael Pereira, (Alejandro Alfaro 70), Emilio Nsue, (Serge Enrich 78), Tomer Hemed, (Alvaro Giminez 70), Javi Marquez, Ximo Navarro, Jose Nunes, (Pablo Mari 44), Victor Casadesus, Pedro Bigas. Subs not used, Ruben Mino, Kevin Garcia, Nicolas, Joao Victor, Alvaro Giminez.
Goal scorer, Victor Casadesus 51 mins, Kevin Garcia 84 mins
Referee, Martin Atkinson
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