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Gibraltar 2-1 Liechtenstein

Over 2000 buoyant fans packed into the Victoria Stadium, last night with tickets sold out well before kick off. The vast majority of the 2000 Gibraltarian supporters with tickets (and indeed those watching at home on TV) had an air of expectancy around them. Their National Team had exceeded all expectations in winning away in Armenia at the weekend. 

They were in the mood to celebrate, and based on Gibraltar’s performance in the first Liechtenstein (in Vaduz last month), and the win in Armenia there was a feeling that two wins in a week was a very distinct possibility. 

This was a fact not lost on Gibraltar Head Coach Julio Ribas. In his pre match media duties, Ribas was keen to stress the fact that he and his players were not about to let Armenia be that last page in the Gibraltarian football history book of competitive victories. From Ribas’ point of view it should be and needed to be the first.   

Gibraltar’s Uruguayan Coach made one change to the team that made history in Armenia. Lincoln Red Imps forward George Cabrera replaced Jamie Coombes. 

Liechtenstein were ready, and out to prove that the score line did not flatter them in that 2-0 win in Vaduz last month, where most observers thought they were fortunate to come away with such a win. They started fast, hard and direct, with no intention of letting Gibraltar settle on the ball. And in the 15thminute they drew first blood. Their tricky number 11 Dennis Salanovic slipped in behind Gibraltar’s defence to slot the opening goal of the game past a helpless Goldwin in goal. 

As the first half developed Gibraltar grew into the game with Cabera Casciaro and Pons proving to be a handful for the Liechtenstein defence,  but were unable to force an equaliser by the time the half time whistle went. 

At the interval Julio Ribas got to work and made a substitution that was to change the game completely. Jamie Coombes replaced Andrew Hernandez and went straight upfront to partner Cabrera. Liechtenstein could not cope. The movement and pace of Lee Casciaro, Cabrera, Coombes and Pons caused them problems right from the start of the second half. Walker and Bardon took control of the midfield and in the 61stminute Gibraltar’s pressure and dominance told. Lee Casciaro broke free on the right hand side and whipped in a delightful cross onto the head of George Cabrera. The Gibraltar number 9 reacted with a sublime glancing header past the helpless Benjamin Buchel in the Liechtenstein goal. 1-1 and Cabrera had his first goal in international football. 

Gibraltar, urged on by the immense support of a packed Victoria Stadium then raised their game to another level pushing forward constantly. 

A series of corners from Liam Walker saw the number 10 almost score direct from one an in-swinger on Gibraltar’s right hand side.  Only a sprawling save from Buchel kept his corner kick out. Walker  re-spotted the ball beside the corner flag and delivered another in swinger, only this time onto the fore head of Joseph Chipolina. The number 3 rose above the Liechtenstein defence to head home his second international goal of the week. 2-1 Gibraltar in the 66thminute and the Victoria Stadium erupted. 

Jamie Coombes then had to be replaced in the 75th minute due to injury meaning Kyle Casciaro made his international comeback.

Gibraltar’s dominance continued right up to the closing minutes, including 7 minutes of stoppage time, which saw Goldwin rapidly drop onto to the ball at his near post to keep Liechtenstein’s efforts at bay.   

In the 98t hminute the Cypriot referee blew the final whistle and sent the Victoria Stadium into rapture. Gibraltar had won their second competitive international fixture in a week. The first time ever that Gibraltar had scored 2 goals in an international match, and the first ever competitive win on home soil.  

Julio Ribas and his team of warriors had dared to dream. Dared to believe they could more than just compete at international level, and worked harder than ever to make dreams come true. 

The international week on October 2018 has seen Gibraltar’s National football team make the dreams of their entire nation come true. Two wins and 6 points in the UEFA Nations League full of pride, passion and unity, values that make every Gibraltarian proud of their  flag, their colours their homeland and their footballers! 

 

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