Gibraltar made history once again in the UEFA Nations League last night, as they recorded their first ever point in Nations League C following a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria at the Victoria Stadium.
Building on their much-hailed positive performance last weekend against North Macedonia, Gibraltar showed what they offered both in defence and attack as they fought back from 1-0 down to seal their historic result courtesy of a Liam Walker penalty.
Bulgaria bossed the possession statistics for the opening 10 minutes of the game but were unable to carve any chances out against a well-drilled Gibraltar back 4.
Set out in a 4-4-2 once again, Gibraltar grew into the game as the minutes ticked on, with wingers Ethan Britto and Julian Valarino looking particularly threatening throughout.
Dayle Coleing was the first to be tested in the match as he pulled off a big save in the 15th minute to deny Minchev at the back post from close range, before his opposite number pulled off an impressive save of his own as he dived low to his left to deny Liam Walker from range minutes later.
As was the case throughout the 90, the first half saw Gibraltar put in an a very solid performance, with the industrious central midfield pairing of Graeme Torrilla and Louie Annesley keeping possession well throughout the half and protecting their defence expertly.
Despite the positive performance, Bulgaria would take the lead in first half injury time through Minchev. A rapid counter-attack saw Milanov set free down the right flank and the winger directed a ball to the back post where the striker was lying in wait to head in the opening goal.
The second half saw Gibraltar react almost instantly as a low ball into the box by veteran frontman Lee Casciaro found the feet of Valarino who looked to place the ball into the far corner only for Vutsov to stretch down and palm the ball away from goal.
The youngster would continue to have chances at the start of the half, as Gibraltar looked to use his pace in behind and composure on the ball to try find a route back into the match.
Bulgaria, who seemed to be caught off guard by the fast Gibraltar start, would eventually find themselves picking the ball out of their own net as on the hour mark Gibraltar equalised from the penalty spot.
A Liam Walker free-kick looked to have been deflected out for a corner, however, a VAR review would result in a penalty being given to Gibraltar. Walker stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way, slamming home the equaliser in front of a raucous Victoria Stadium.
The Gibraltar equaliser seemed to shake Bulgaria awake as the visitors immediately responded as they pushed Gibraltar back and looked to use their physicality, with long balls peppering Coleing’s penalty area but the goalkeeper proved to be more than a match.
Julio Ribas responded to the physical threat being posed by the visitors as he threw on Reece Styche, with the number nine offering Gibraltar an out-ball when under pressure as he battled hard with Bulgaria’s centre-backs and helped relieve pressure on the Gibraltar backline.
As the minutes ticked on, Ribas would introduce Aymen Mouelhi and Kian Ronan, with a change in formation seeing Gibraltar revert to a back five for the closing minutes of the half as they went in search of a historic first point in Nations League C.
With six minutes of injury time being added on at the end of the half, it was an anxious wait for those in attendance, however, Gibraltar’s historic achievement was secured as Coleing pounced at the feet of Minchv to deny the striker a last-minute winner before the referee blew for full-time.
Gibraltar now head to North Macedonia, when they will take on the hosts in Matchday 4 of UEFA Nations League C on Sunday.