Matthew Hoppe couldn’t help Mallorca avoid crashing out of the Copa del Ray, while Valencia was eventually able to prevail, albeit uncomfortably, to set up a semifinal berth for Yunus Musah when he returns from USMNT duty.
Rayo Vallecano 1 – 0 RCD Mallorca
Matthew Hoppe earned his longest appearance for Mallorca since September, playing the final half-hour for the team on Wednesday night in their narrow quarterfinal loss at Rayo Vallecano.
The two teams, both of whom were promoted from the second-division last season, came into the game in very different situations. Rayo has been one of the biggest surprise packages of La Liga, achieving a respectable eighth place, and constantly threatening to jump into the European spots.
Mallorca, on the other hand, has struggled from the start, and while still currently out of the relegation places, even if barely, they have yet to find their rhythm to maintain any sense of consistency.
Having remained at Mallorca through the winter transfer window, despite some loan rumors that never came to fruition, Hoppe has established himself as an option off the bench when head coach Luis García Plaza needs some extra offensive firepower, which is exactly the role he played on Wednesday night.
The game was ultimately won moments before halftime, with Rayo’s Oscar Trejo scoring the lone goal of the game from the spot. On a fast break of the left, Alvaro Garcia was taken out by a reckless, diving tackle from Mallorca defender Franco Russo. The referee had no question about whether to issue the yellow and award the penalty to the hosts.
Trejo lined up to take the spot kick quickly, and sent Mallorca keeper Sergio Rico diving the wrong way, giving his team the 1-0 lead.
Hoppe entered the game three minutes before the hour mark, taking the place of winger Giovanni Gonzalez in a bid to wake up the attack.
He did manage a pair of shots over his roughly 30 minutes of play, one on target, while sending in two crosses, however the hosts’ defense held strong, knocking Hoppe and his Mallorca teammates out of the competition.
Hoppe will hope to contribute on Saturday afternoon when Mallorca face a massive relegation six-pointer against Cadiz in La Liga action.
FC Valencia advanced to the semifinal of the Copa del Rey, despite missing their hero so far in this competition, Yunus Musah, who was on national team duty in the US. As the last Yank left in the competition, Musah will await Friday afternoon’s draw to find out his team’s opponent for the two-legged semifinal beginning next week.