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Gibraltar returned home to face Georgia in their latest European Qualifier for UEFA Euro 2020 at the Victoria Stadium this evening with the belief that this was the fixture, out of the Group D matches, that a positive result could come from.

Julio Ribas stuck with his familiar Gibraltar formation and setup, reinforcing his desire to get Gibraltar playing solidly in defence with a setup that allows the team to express themselves on the ball. Gibraltar’s Head Coach made one change from the Kosovo friendly last week – Liam Walker replaced Anthony Hernandez.

Right from the kick-off, both teams were fired up and raring to go. Georgia aware that they were the overwhelming favourites wanted to stamp their authority on the game immediately, and in the 10th minute the visitors took the lead. Kharaishvili chested the ball down and coolly slotted the ball to the left of the helpless Goldwin in the Gibraltar goal. 1-0 Georgia.

11 minutes later it was 2-0. Kankava was given time and space and fired a wonder strike past Goldwin. Georgia were looking comfortable at this stage. Casciaro and De Barr had efforts towards the end of the half as Gibraltar grew into the game forcing a series of corners before the break but at half time Georgia were 2-0 up and happy with their night’s work so far.  

Int the second half and Gibraltar looked like a different team altogether. Fired up and taking control of the game despite being 2-0 down. In the 56th minute came the one sickening moment of the night. Jack Sergeant and Kharaishvilli collided head on in a 50/50 challenge. Sergeant got to the ball slightly late and was booked, however Kharaishvilli was stretchered off after a lengthy stoppage and receiving medical attention.    

By now Gibraltar were on the front foot. Walker had an effort from the edge of the box tipped round the post. De Barr fired wide after rounding the Georgian keeper.

 

 

 

In the 66th minute Ethan Britto crossed in from the left and up popped Lee Casciaro to slot home his 3rd international goal. Gibraltar were right back in it now.

Walker was controlling the midfield and in the 73rd minute unleashed a trademark left foot thunderbolt that looked set to nestle in the top corner before the outstretched Loria in the Georgian goal somehow managed to get his fingertips to the ball and tip it over the bar.

 

 

 

Walker stepped up to deliver the corner met by Aymen Mouelhi. Another great save from Loria but this time Roy Chipolina bundled in the rebound. 2-2 and 15 minutes to go. What a fightback by the home side.  Barnett and Andrew Hernandez replaced Badr and Joseph Chipolina with less than 10 minutes to go.

 

 

 

Barnett and Andrew Hernandez replaced Badr and Joseph Chipolina with less than 10 minutes to go.

But in the 84th minute a devastating blow for Gibraltar. Kvilitaia, the second half substitute, poked home the visitors 3rd from an outswinging corner against the run of play. 3-2 to the visitors. Pons then replaced Walker in injury time and Georgia held on to deny Gibraltar their first ever point in a European Qualifier.

For Julio Ribas and Gibraltar the result was hard to take after the magnificent second half comeback. But nevertheless there were huge positives to take forward as Ribas continues in his long term plan of revolutionising the Gibraltar national team. Next up for Gibraltar is Denmark away on the 15th of November.