Muriqi spectacularly hooked in his sixth goal of the season. | MIQUEL A. BORRAS

“Football – it’s a funny old game” as the late, great Jimmy Greaves used to say back in the day. Now there’s something called VAR that has shown once again this past week on the European stage and again on Friday that it causes more frustration and grief than it resolves. On Friday night in the Son Moix we witnessed a roller-coaster ride of emotions as we saw at least four different games rolled into one.

After a lacklustre opening 30 minutes, nothing much had happened, with Mallorca well on top. Mallorca’s mid field looked in charge, with Ghanaian international Baba having easily his best game of the season. He was omnipresent, secure in tackling and brilliant in breaking out of defence with the ball at his feet. When he’s on form, Mallorca are on form.

On the down side, we lost one of our best players, Pablo Maffeo, who in the 23rd minute went off with what looked like a hip injury. The young Catalan player is one of the lungs of the team and gives his all from the first to the last minute.

His replacement, Uruguayan Gio Gonzalez, was a worthy stand-in and was involved in the opener. He received a wonder-pass from Galarreta and flicked the ball through to Muriqi, who spectacularly hooked in his sixth goal of the season. There’s no question the Kosovan is lethal in the penalty area. That goal changed everything, and for 20 minutes we played some festival football. All that was missing was the all-important second goal to finish off the game.

I sat beside a lovely Spanish guy who is an Espanyol follower, and he said this was the worst “Budgies” side he had seen for many years.

Then, in the 70th minute DISASTER. A cross from substitute Lazo saw the ball take an impossible trajectory and our goalkeeper Rajkovic was flummoxed by a dipping shot that he thought was going wide, but hit the post and went in. A real shocker for Mallorca and a lucky, fluky goal for Español, 1-1.

Then came the controversial ending, with Mallorca falling apart after Espanyol’s jammy equaliser, our ex player Brian Olivan, clearly upended Angel in the penalty area. My seat was only 20 yards from the incident and this was a stonewall spot kick all night long.

By this time the referee, Señor Jaime Latre, who up until then had had a six out of 10 game was beginning to lose the plot. The incident was so obviously a penalty. However, surprisingly, the referee was not even notified by VAR in Madrid to view the pitch-side monitor screen. The referee signalled Olivan had played the ball when dozens of replays showed he clearly hadn’t. It was an outrageous decision and Mallorca fans went crazy. For the second time in three games, we were on the receiving end of a clear injustice. The controversy led to outrage from the Mallorca bench, with both Maffeo and coach Aguirre (who once again strayed many times out of his technical area) being sent off for being “gobby” on the bench.

SUMMING UP: The Espanyol equaliser again showed Mallorca’s frailties as they failed to capitalise after creating a shed full of chances. Towards the end we struggled in attack and were close to losing a game we should have been 3 or 4 up in after an hour. The point left a bad taste in the mouth of us Mallorquinistas as we dropped two home points to a team who were rubbish until the last 10 minutes.

Next up: Villareal away on Sunday, 6th at 18:30.

PS VAR has taken the joy out of football. It is not being used properly, giving judgements against where they are not warranted, and failing to notice referees’ blunders when they are all too obvious. It was as if the VAR boys had gone out for a pizza before the game finished. Get rid now !