Europa take lead after beating Mons Calpe ... Lincoln Red Imps now forced to win
Europa entered their Saturday afternoon encounter against Mons Calpe knowing that nothing less than a victory would be enough to keep their hopes of a league title open.
The match was to be coincidentally kick off at the same time as the FA Cup
Final reducing the numbers who would turn up to watch. The FA Cup attracting its traditional interest across Gibraltar’s football community.
It had also been just twenty-four hours after finding out officially that they would not be playing in the Rock Cup final on Wednesday that Europa were playing to try and finish their season with the title or runners up spot. Their fate was in the hands of others after dropping points against their main rivals throughout the season. This did not stop Europe from mounting a display which highlighted their intent of still wanting to be title holders.
Europa might have finished third in a head to head mini table based on matches played between Lincoln Red Imps, St Joseph and themselves against each other. They were, however still
In contention for the title on the final match day.
Once again Europa’s squad was determined by injuries and non availability of players. The club again using some of its upcoming youngsters such as Breed, Crisp and Gibson. With national players Olivero and Jolley still out due to injury alongside veteran player Ayew.
Mons Calpe had little to play for having secured a fourth place finish and with no chance to rise any further even if they won. Mons playing in their fluorescent kit, were now awaiting to see whether Lincoln Red Imps beat Glacis United providing the fourth placed team in the league a chance to play in the Europa League.
Mons face difficult times with a FIFA disciplinary decision hanging over their heads which could prevent them from entering the transfer market to reinforce their squad for the summer and next season.
Europa within the first five minutes had a chance to score after a quick break required Fraiz to keep his focus to save.
Although Europa was pressing high and had the better possession in the early moments of the match Mons Calpe showed that they were not going to hold back. Some neat passing by Mons Calpe had Europa back tracking to defend their area. Europa nevertheless had been controlling possession.
With sixteen minutes gone Europa stole the ball in midfield and Gibson stepped up, run down the left and put a cross for a header for a goal. Gallardo making it look easy after making space for himself in front of goal.
Just three minutes later a lobbed ball over Mons Calpe defence was well met by Gallardo who himself lobbed over Fraiz for Europa’s second.
Europa did not ease their pace and continued to place Fraiz’s goal under threat.
Just as the match reached the half hour point Europa stole as Mons Calpe advanced. A quick break saw Gibson expose Mons Calpe’s defence running into the penalty area. His shot was to hit the crossbar. Gallardo, who had run in support collected the rebound and controlling well struck at goal putting it through the legs of the defenders for the 3-0. Gallardo completing his hat-trick.
Europa maintained their momentum and gave Mons Calpe little breathing space to go forward entering the halftime break with a 3-0 cushion.
With just five minutes of the second half gone Gallardo put a header over the cross bar from a corner kick.
Borge came on as Europa added to their attack. Europa also brought on second keeper Romero for Lopez.
The chances kept rolling up for Europa Willy hitting the cross bar on the fifty-fifth minute with just Fraiz to beat. Just two minutes later a floated ball into the six yard box with a header from Borge graced over the bar as they dominated the match.
Mons Calpe tried to advance their lines and put some pressure on Europa’s defence as the match arrived at it’s hour mark.
It was short lived as Europa went back on the offensive.
Controlling possession Europa slowed the pace knowing they had the comfort of a 3-0 cushion. Slowly building up there was none of the urgency seen at the beginning waiting to find space for further attempts at goal. Europa came close several times in the final ten minutes to add a fourth.
The match was to finish with Europa winning 3-0 Mons Calpe stopping them from scoring in the second half.
This was to be the last match of the season for both teams but their season still was to be decided by others.
Europa now had to wait for the result between Lincoln Red Imps and Lions to find out if they could finish champions. A draw or win for Lions would provide them with the title. For the next twenty-four hours they were assured they had done their work and now lead at the top of the league table, two points ahead of Lincoln Red Imps.
Mons Calpe have to wait until Wednesday night to find out if they will be playing in the Europa League where they will be hoping for a Lincoln Red Imps to win the Rock Cup.