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Europa FC beat reigning National League and Rock Cup Champions Lincoln Red Imps FC 3-1 last night to lift the Pepe Reyes Memorial Cup in the 2021/22 season curtain-raiser.

Two goals from Europa FC captain Rico Dominguez as well as a third from Anthony Hernandez was enough to defeat a Lincoln Red Imps side who spent the majority of the second half down to 10 men.

The start to the game was a very even affair full of energy and running as both midfields fought hard for control of the match.

 

As was to become a theme for the first half, neither side was truly in control, with both Lincoln and Europa looking threatening in possession while also defending well.

With this being said, it was the eventual winners that would take the lead on the 15-minute mark as Rico Dominguez rounded off a rapid counter attack by dribbling into the box and unleashing a wicked left-footed drive across goal and into the top corner.

The goal didn’t change much in terms of the flow of the game, with both sides continuing to threaten while neither took complete control.

The contest was very much back and forth between penalty areas with both defences looking assured, however, it wasn’t too long until the net was rippling again as Lincoln grabbed an equaliser in the 33rd minute through Ethan Britto.

 

A ball in behind the defence that looked destined for Kike Gomez wrong footed Europa goalkeeper Christian Lopez when the striker ran over the ball. Unable to adjust his position quick enough, the ball bounced off the young keeper’s foot and into the path of Britto who tapped it into the net.

The goal proved to be the last big chance of the half as both teams would go into the break level before an explosive second half saw Europa seal the result.  

As was the case in the first half, the second 45 started off even with both sides fighting for control and in search of the go-ahead goal.

Unfortunately for Lincoln, within 5 minutes of the restart they would find themselves a man down after goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin was sent off for two yellow cards in quick succession, the latter of which was brandished after he was deemed to have handled the ball outside his penalty area.

 

There was a lengthy delay in play as Lincoln brought on Manuel Soler to take charge between the sticks, but it wasn’t long until he himself was picking the ball out of the net as Europa took the lead from the resulting free-kick.

Having not been cleared by Lincoln’s defence, the cross into the box fell at the feet of Rico Dominguez who connected sweetly with a left footed volley that slammed into the bottom right-hand corner of the net to make the score 2-1.

Despite now playing with 10 men, Lincoln continued to press Europa and went on in search of an equaliser, however, with a man advantage, Europa did pose a threat on the counter-attack and almost made it 3-1 in the 70th minute when Jaron Vinet was played through against Soler.

 

The Lincoln goalkeeper rushed out to meet the young star and palmed away his effort to keep the score at 2-1, but it wasn’t long until Europa made that extra man count.

On the 80th minute Europa struck their third and final blow as Rico Dominguez was slipped through on goal for a chance to grab his hat-trick. Instead of setting his sights on goal, the Europa captain played in former Lincoln man Anthony Hernandez who tapped the ball into the empty net to make it 3-1 and to seal the Pepe Reyes Memorial Cup victory.