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For 6 years, Malta believed that they owed Gibraltar, after the Maltese National team became the first team to lose a recognised international fixture to Gibraltar.  

However for both teams, tonight was about preparations for greater goals. With the next round of UEFA Nations League fixtures beginning at the weekend, both teams had one eye on that.

Julio Ribas made several changes to the Gibraltar team that beat San Marino. Ethan Britto, Roy Chipolina, Dayle Coleing and Anthony Hernandez were all unavailable. Liam Walker, Lee Casciaro and Graeme Torrilla all rested meaning Gibraltar had a new Captain. Young in age but experienced in terms of international football, it was Jayce Olivero who was handed the armband by Ribas.  Kyle Goldwin returned in goal and Kian Ronan got his first start in the heart of Gibraltar’s midfield.

 

 

As the game kicked off Malta looked to dominate the early possession in the midfield without creating much. Alain Pons had forced an early corner for Gibraltar in the 5th minute but nothing was to come of it.

However it was from a set piece of their own that Malta opened the scorinng in the 8th minute. Olivero was penalised for a foul on Muscatt. Up stepped Camenzuli who fund Nwoko who had drifted into space and unmarked headed past Goldwin. 1-0 Malta.

Despite the early goal, Gibraltar grew into the game as the first half went on. Reece Styche was proving a handful up front, fanked by the industrious Jamie Coombes and Alain Pons on either side.

Neither side was able to create any noteworthy chances before the half time break so the hosts went in 1-0 up.

 

At half time both teams made changes. For Malta, Caruana replaced Sam Arab and S. Borg came on for Aguis. Julio Ribas made three changes for Gibraltar. Liam Walker replaced Kian Ronan, Graeme Torrilla replaced Coombes and Annesley replaced Erin Barnett. A clear indication from the Gibraltar Head Coach that he wanted the majority of his squad to get minutes under their belt ahead of Saturday’s big game in Liechtenstein.

Badr then replaced Ethan Jolley and Tjay De Barr came on for Reece Styche in the 50th minute. Gibraltar were now looking the better team.

Lee Casciaro replaced Pons on the hour as Ribas introduced Gibraltar’s talisman, and instantly Gibraltar’s big chance came. Walker curled in a corner which was met by Louie Annesley at the far post. Annelsey cushioned his header into the path of Graeme Torrilla who fired wide with the goal at his mercy.

 

 

 

Deep in to the second half with Gibraltar starting to dominate, Tjay De Barr broke free in the centre circle only to be unceremoniously hacked down by Muscatt. Only a yellow according to the Bulgarian match officials, however the crudeness of the tackle from behind on De Barr raised many an eyebrow.

Liam Walker then had a shot from distance which went wide after the Gibraltar number 10 spotted the Maltese keeper off his line.

With Gibraltar pushing forward, Caruana scored a 90th minute second goal for Malta which killed off the game.

There was still time for Liam Walker to have one more effort on goal but the referee brought the game to an end instantly after.

2-0 to the hosts who will believe they have extracted some sort of revenge for the defeat in 2014, however in truth this game, for both sides was about building towards the weekend.

For Gibraltar Julio Ribas will take huge positives from the performance of some of the youngsters who have got minutes under their belt, on a very heavy pitch in Malta and an excellent run out ahead of Saturday evening’s UEFA Nations League clash with Liechtenstein in Vaduz.