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Gibraltar fans filled out the Tercentenary Sports Hall as they watched the Gibraltar National Women’s Futsal team make history by becoming gibraltar’s first ever Women’s National Team to take part in an official competitive International match since joining UEFA and FIFA.

They played host to Belgium in their UEFA Women’s Futsal Euro Preliminary Round Qualifying fixture and it was ultimately a tale of two sisters as the Robba twins, Shania and Caitlin, shone in Gibraltar’s unfortunate and undeserved penalty shoot-out loss as the sides were dead locked at 3-3 after extra time.

Caitlin Robba, who started in the Gibraltar net, was kept busy throughout the game but proved to be more than a match for the Belgium attack as she pulled off save after save to keep Gibraltar in the game in the first half.

 

Despite Robba’s heroics, the vistors scored twice - Tine Van Roie and Pauline Taquet both scored in the opening five minutes to give Belgium a 2-0 lead.

The quick start would have had alarm bells ringing in the Gibraltar camp, but the girls, and the crowd, did not falter as Gibraltar fought back, wrestling control of the game as they went in search of a vital goal.

Belgium however, was still dangerous in possession and Caitlin Robba was again called into action as she tipped the ball onto her own post following a typically rapid counterattack. That can happen all too often on the futsal court.  

But despite Belgium’s chance, Gibraltar looked relatively comfortable, in control of the game and soon after had their just reward.

Lorena Garcia went close for Gibraltar, narrowly shooting wide of Belgium’s goal, before captain Tiffany Viagas slotted the ball into the empty net to make it 2-1 after a brilliant turn and assist from Shania Robba in the 10th minute.

With the goal Gibraltar grew in confidence and imposed their dominance on the game themselves as the raucous packed-out crowd at the Tercentenary Hall urged them on and on.

 

 

Gibraltar continued to push high and put together a string of attacks that should have seen them at the very least draw level as both Tianna Borrell and Kayleigh Ferro went close in the closing minutes of the half.

Despite dominating for much of the first half Gibraltar went into the half time break trailing 2-1 but with all the momentum, however, they didn’t have long to wait until they found their equaliser to the delight of the home support early in the second half.

Having provided Gibraltar’s first goal, Shania Robba turned goalscorer after only three minutes of the second half as she burst through the Belgium defence and coolly slotted past the goalkeeper to equalise before reeling away and celebrating in front of a roaring home crowd.

Gibraltar continued to push on following the equaliser but were unable to breach the Belgium defence which somehow withheld everything Gibraltar threw at them.

Then it was Belgium who took the half by the scruff of the neck and penned Gibraltar back in the latter stages of the second half and kept possession well.

However, Belgium struggled to break down Gibraltar’s rock-like rear-guard and when they did, they had Robba to contend with who seemed determined to not be beaten again.

In fact, Gibraltar’s goalkeeper put on a player of the match performance as she stopped everything in her path, including a brilliant diving penalty save in the final few minutes to keep the scores level.

The capacity crowd cheered every Robba save and every subsequent last-ditch tackle from Gibraltar’s defenders as they put their bodies on the line to ensure their goal was not breached again.

And in the final seconds, Gibraltar almost won the game as a deflected corner found its way over the Belgium keeper and looked to have bounced over the line, however, the referee’s decided that the whole ball had not crossed the goal-line and the whistle was blown for full-time.

 

 

The first half of extra time proved relatively uneventful as Belgium kept possession and Gibraltar defended well, however, the home crowd needed to only wait five minutes as the game exploded into life in the second half.

Within a minute of the restart, the game went into overdrive as Belgium took the lead again through Van Roie after she slotted the ball into the Gibraltar net following a slew of saves from Robba. The goalkeeper denied the Belgian attacker twice but was unable to keep out her third effort which went under her body and into the net.

Despite going behind the home crowd and the girls did not falter and within a minute they were level again through Shania Robba who once again reeled away in celebration after latching onto a loose ball which she drilled low and hard past the keeper and into the net to make it 3-3.

Both sides continued to push on for the remaining minutes of extra time but neither could find a fourth goal, thus resulting in the game going to penalties which saw Belgium clinch a 5-4 victory.