WARRIORS striker Tino Kadewere says he is delighted to break his Laliga duck after helping his Mallorca side to a 4-2 victory over 10-man Villarreal on Saturday, becoming the first Zimbabwean to score a goal in the Spanish topflight league.
The 27-year-old, on loan from French Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyon, celebrated his first league start for his team by opening the scoring sheet following a poor clearance by former Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina which was intercepted by Muriqi to set up the former Harare City star to side-foot the ball home.
Speaking after the match, Kadewere who was injured at the beginning of his Mallorca tenure and played a few games as a substitute on his return, said he was happy to score his first league goal.
“I’m very happy and I feel very proud. It was a good game and it was a great goal. It also came at a good time because we got the three points,” Kadewere told the club’s official website.
Through this goal against the Yellow Submarine, Kadewere became the first Zimbabwean player to score a goal in the Laliga division.
The striker was substituted with 12 minutes remaining. He was saluted by the fans at the end of the match, and a section of the crowd could be heard chanting his name as the players made their way back to the dressing rooms.
A hash tag #FambaTino on the club’s Twitter page was also trending after the match.
Kadewere, whose loan deal expires at the end of the season, said he was humbled by the fans’ gesture.
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“I have been waiting for those for a long time. It came at a good time too because we won the three points. Villarreal is a very good team and we knew it was not going to be an easy game. We tried to push as much as possible and in the end it was great because we managed to score a lot of goals,” Kadewere added.
However, this is not Kadewere’s first goal with Mallorca as he had already scored in the first round of the Kings Cup during his team's resounding 6-0 victory over sixth tier side CD Autol in November last year.
Mallorca coach Javier Agguire was thrilled by Kadewere’s input on Saturday, and admitted that he was finding the formula for the Warriors star to be able to adapt both to his team’s game and to the demands of Laliga.
To achieve this, the coach said he was using video sessions to get the best out of Kadewere.
“Kadewere’s game was as expected, and I’m happy for him today,” Aguirre said.
“He was always close to Muriqi. He is a boy who has goals in him and has good timing to go into space and brilliant in the air,” the Real Mallorca coach added.
“At a competitive level in Spain, football is a little tougher and more contact than he was used to. Based on training and the insistence on posting videos, we have discovered an improvement in Tino. It’s now difficult to select because I have Abdn, Muriqi and Tino.”
Villarreal were forced to play the bulk of the match with 10 men following the dismissal of Manu Trigueros who was shown a straight red card on the 21st minute for slapping Dani Rodrìguez.
But even with a man down, the away side looked to dominate possession and José Luis Morales took advantage of a mix-up between González and Raíllo to equalise in the 43rd minute.
Mallorca responded straightaway — a fine cross by Maffeo found Rodríguez in space to head past Reina.
Muriqi might have made it three after an error by Capoue, and the first half ended with some fracas between the two sets of players after Albiol appeared to hit Kadewere.
Four minutes into the second period and Villarreal were level again. Copote lost the ball and a Pino assist put Samuel Chukwueze in to beat Rajkovic one-on-one. But it didn't take long for Mallorca to assert their one-man advantage with Rodríguez grabbing his second on 56 minutes.
Vedat Muriqi sealed the victory six minutes later for Mallorca, who jumped up to eighth position on the Laliga table with 31 points from 22 matches.
Meanwhile, Marvelous Nakamba suffered an injury setback for his championship side Luton in their 1-0 defeat to leaders Burnley on Saturday.
The Warriors midfielder, who is on loan from English Premier League side Aston Villa, was substituted on 68th minute after picking a knock.
It was his first league start at home for his new club who conceded the goal, from a penalty kick, 10 minutes after his withdrawal.