RCD Mallorca put their indifferent Primera División form behind them to establish a commanding first-leg lead in their UEFA Cup third-round tie at FC Spartak Moskva.
Goals from Samuel Eto'o, Antonio González Rodríguez and Jesús Perera gave the visitors a comfortable lead to take back to Spain next Wednesday. The fact that Spartak, under new coach Nevio Scala, have not played competitively for more than two months may have had a bearing on the result, with all three goals coming in the last 25 minutes.
Defences hold firm
Neither side created a real chance of note in the first half, the defences holding their lines well and refusing to allow the slightest opening. Spartak's Aleksandr Pavlenko went closest late on, striking a shot straight at Miki Garro.
With the snow falling throughout the second half, Spartak were hoping to make the difficult conditions tell in their favour. Pavlenko almost made it count, taking advantage of a fortunate bounce off a defender and cutting inside, but his shot drifted wide of the far post for what was to be Spartak's best chance. Mallorca's Finidi George then broke and cut inside, but Spartak goalkeeper Georgi Lomaia got his foot to the ball.
Federico Guillermo Lussenhoff twice cleared tellingly for the visitors before Eto'o made the 67th-minute breakthrough. The Cameroonian forward got ahead of Dusan Petkovic and squeezed his shot in from the narrowest of angles into the far corner.
Spartak had the chance to reply instantly, but Pavlenko's effort was blocked by the grateful Garro. Mallorca relaxed noticeably as the game wore on and doubled their lead when Baye Kebe's backpass was intercepted by Fernando Correa. His 80th-minute shot was deflected and González Rodríguez could not miss.
Jesús Perera completed the job for Mallorca with a third five minutes from time, beating the offside trap and lobbing Lomaia from the edge of the box. It will be a huge task for Spartak to get back into the tie after this late burst of goals.
Scala was certainly disappointed. "
It is very hard for me to make comments after this game," he said. "I am very upset and unsatisfied with our perfomance. However, I want to point out that we played really well in the first 60 minutes when we created a flurry of fine chances but unfortunately could not convert them."
His opposite number Luis Aragonés said: "The first half was all equal - we played a fine game in defence, but our attacks were similarly neutralised by Spartak. We were struggling to find space on the wings, but we improved after the break. We were lucky that our opponents did not take their chances."