A Matchday 4 visit to the rainy North Macedonian capital of Skopje proved to be one game too many for Gibraltar’s history makers in what has been a gruelling, but history-making, international window in UEFA’s Nations League C.
Having qualified for last year’s European Championship and having knocked Italy out of the World Cup Qualifiers earlier this year, North Macedonia showed just why they were group favourites heading into the Nations League C campaign as they registered a 4-0 victory over Gibraltar.
Gibraltar, who had just written another historic page into their modern-day footballing history against Bulgaria, got off to the worst possible start due to a moment of individual brilliant by North Macedonia Captain, Enis Bardi.
Having been awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area, the Levante midfielder placed the ball down before curling a magnificent shot up and over the wall, hitting both posts as he made it 1-0 inside the opening 5 minutes.
Bardi would prove to be influential yet again as North Macedonia doubled their lead shortly after, with the captain providing a cross that would see Miovski leap highest to head the ball into the net for 2-0.
Miovski would grab his second goal of the game minutes later as having received the ball rather fortunately, he would slalom past a challenge before his deflected effort would make it 3-0.
Stunned by the fast start, Gibraltar eventually settled and began keeping spells of possession, at times looking dangerous on the counter-attack thanks to the pace of Lee Casciaro, Ethan Britto and Julian Valarino up top.
North Macedonia would still create chances despite Gibraltar having settled, however, Bradley Banda, who was making his UEFA Nations League debut on the night, once again proved just why he is considered to be one of Gibraltar’s up and coming stars, as he would make a host of impressive saves as the half drew on.
Despite Gibraltar’s good possession play, North Macedonia would eventually make it 4-0 as Todorski was released down the right flank, smashing the ball across the face of goal for Churlinov to make it 4-0 before half-time.
Having put Gibraltar to the sword in the first half, North Macedonia would undoubtedly have been surprised by Gibraltar’s grit, determination and resolve in the second half, as Julio Ribas’ side put in a tenacious performance that stifled both the crowd and the North Macedonian players themselves.
Once again sporting their new look formation, Gibraltar’s defence remained resolute as ever throughout the second 45, with the additional player in midfield proving key in catalysing pressing situations that would see Gibraltar win the ball back high throughout the half.
Ribas would also make full use of his substitutions to freshen his team, with Kian Ronan, Reece Styche, Jack Sergeant, Joseph Chipolina and Ethan Jolley all coming on throughout the second half to add to the improved Gibraltar performance.
Gibraltar, bolstered by their fresh legs, would go on to shut out North Macedonia in the entire second half, and would cause problems of their own, the best of which coming through Liam Walker who almost caught out Siskovski towards the end of the match with a smart free-kick.
Although not the result that Gibraltar wanted on the night, the squad can certainly head back to The Rock with their heads held high, having put in a host of stellar performances in what has been an intense 4-match international window spanning just 12 days.
In fact, this June 2022 international window will go down in the history of Gibraltar football, as not only did we begin our inaugural UEFA Nations League C campaign, but we also registered our first ever point following our 1-1 draw in Matchday 3 with a Bulgaria outfit who sit 73rd in FIFA’s World Rankings – 130 places above Gibraltar.