Despite the scoreline losing 4-0 away, against a team ranked 11thion the worlds, and one of the final four in the inaugural UEFA Nations League shows how far the Gibraltar National Team have come in the last few years, and even more so on the last year since Julio Ribas has been in charge. Even more so when each and every single player in a Gibraltar shirt was extremely disappointed as they walked of the pit h at the Stade de Tourbillon in Sion this evening.
The game started with Gibraltar lining up with the same starting XI that took on Denmark, last Thursday at the Victoria Stadium. Switzerland, from the off, went on the attack. YetGibraltar look comfortable, limiting the Swiss to long range efforts and forcing them out wide as they tried to unlock the Gibraltar defence.
Unfortunately for Gibraltar, Dayle Coleing, who was showing exactly why Julio Ribas had made him his first choice keeper, injured a hamstring whilst taking a goal kick and was replaced by Kyle Goldwin in the 25thminute.
Switzerland were piling on the pressure and Gibraltar were standing firm. Yet in the 35thminute Gibraltar conceded one corner too many. Granit Xhaka with the out swinging delivery and Zakaria with the glancing header made it 1-0.
Fabian Schar then whipped in a cross, right footed, from the left hand side and Mehmedi timed his run perfectly to nod in Switzerland’s second in the 43rdminute.
A succession of corners immediately before the half time whistle was to see Gibraltar concede again. A poor clearance in stoppage time landed at the feet of Ricardo Rodriguez who drilled in a low shot beyond the helpless Goldwin.
Half time allowed Ribas to gather his troops and regroup. His young warriors emerged hungry and revitalised after the half time whistle. Once again limiting the Swiss to efforts from distance and forcing them out wide at every opportunity.
Jamie Coombes replaced Andrew Hernandez in the 58thminute and the plucky young forward and his terrier like attitude posed a different problem for Switzerland’s Defenders. Pons replaced Britto in the 67thminute in a like for like change on Gibraltar’s left hand side.
As the second half progressed, Gibraltar enjoyed some small pockets of possession with Liam Walker’s left foot looking the most threatening danger for the Swiss.in the 87thminute Mehmedi’s deflected shot fell perfectly at the feet of Gavranovic who slotted home Switzerland’s 4th, and that was that.
Switzerland may have been dominant but Gibraltar’s players left the pitch feeling somewhat disappointed with themselves. Disappointed that they thought they could have done more against a team ranked number 11 in the world, the top seeds in our Group and a team who were in the Nations League final four this summer. Once again with a starting XI containing 3 players over the age of 24, Julio Ribas’ work in developing and progressing the Gibraltar national team is there for all to see!