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Gibraltar travelled to Liechtenstein for what, on paper at least, was arguably the toughest fixture of League D Group 2 in the 2020 edition of the UEFA Nations League. A tough assignment just three days earlier in Malta, on a heavy pitch in the Mediterranean Island, was a good workout for Julio Ribas’ squad, who were under no illusions, this evenings game was the big one. Potentially make or break in the group, despite it only being either nation's second Group 2 fixture. The winner would be 3 points clear, and the loser left playing catch up.  

After making changes to his starting line up in Malta, Ribas reverted to type, of sorts. Sergeant, Torrilla, Walker, Badr, Lee Casciaro and De Barr all took their places in the starting eleven. Goldwin kept his place in goal, with Dayle Coleing absent, and Bradley Banda and Ayoub El Hmidi took their seats on the bench after being drafted in from Gibraltar’s U21 squad.

Gibraltar, in all honesty, didn’t start well, literally in the first minute, Liechtenstein’s danger man, Denis Salanovic, went straight through the Gibraltar defence only to chip wide past the stranded Goldwin in the Gibraltar goal. A huge let off.

But in truth, that was as good as it got for the home side in the first half. It actually proved to be the wake up call Gibraltar needed. The visitors took control, and in the 10th minute Lee Casciaro found himself free down the right hand side. Gibraltar’s number 7 looked up and fed in a low cross to Tjay De Barr. The youngster instantly controlled on the turn and fired home his second international goal. 1-0 Gibraltar!

 

 

Just three minutes later it was that man Casciaro again, causing havoc in and amongst the Liechtenstein defence who didnt know 'whether to stick or twist'. This time he found himself clean through, one on one with the keeper, however uncharacteristically, Buchel denied the Gibraltar forward.

By this stage Gibraltar were dominant. Walker had a shot but was denied by Buchel in the 16th minute, and despite bookings for Annesley and De Barr, the visitors were now in total control.  

Walker again went close just before the half hour mark just before, incredibly against the  run of play, out of no where, Sandro Wolfinger flashed a long range effort just over Goldwin’s cross bar.

Graeme Torrilla was then booked in first half stoppage time, but as the half time whistle went, Gibraltar were firmly in charge.

Liechtenstein made two changes at the break as they looked to take advantage of their home conditions, a heavy pitch in the cold and rain in the shadow of the Liechtenstein mountains.

Yildiz replaced Fabio Wolfinger and Frommelt replaced Sele. And it seemed to have an instant impact as Yildiz clipped the bar immediately. Despite another shot from Walker which was blocked, Lichtenstein were looking to take control of the game.

In the 51st minute Frommelt brought a smart save out of Goldwin, before Salanovic took the corner and Hofer rose to meet it only to be denied by another save from Goldwin.

Then Liechtenstein’s moment came. Another Salanovic corner was met this time by Malin whose header was parried by Goldwin. Malin pounced on the rebound, only for the Gibraltar keeper to make up for his mistake with a wonder save.

De Barr went close again in the 61st minute before he was replaced 10 minutes later by Reece Styche, A superb effort from the young striker on his return to the Gibraltar starting line up after a lengthy lay off.

Annesley then fired just over before Ethan Jolley replaced Lee Casciaro.

 

 

 

Mohamed Badr then glanced headed wide, when he perhaps should have left the cross for an unmarked Torrilla. Badr himself had to go off injured and was replaced late on by Alain Pons.

Heroic defending in injury time with Wiseman putting his body on the line and Graeme Torrilla making two crucial blocks eventually seeing the game out. The referee blew the final whistle to seal Gibraltar’s second ever away win, once again coming on an October evening in the UEFA Nations League!

A fantastic performance from Gibraltar’s National team, and yet another tactical masterclass from Gibraltar’s Head Coach Julio Ribas. Two wins, two clean sheets and 6 points mean Gibraltar sit on top of League D Group 2 ahead of a bumper November international window where Gibraltar face San Marino away Liechtenstein at home in the Nations League with both matches coming after an away date in Albania for an international friendly.