Gibraltar stamps their mark with victory against Liechtenstein
Gibraltar 2-0 Liechtenstein
Gibraltar stamped their position within the fine line between Nations League C and Nations League D teams with a convincing victory against Liechtenstien. And not for the first time after having claimed promotion to League C by beating and drawing against the same side in the previous Nations League edition.
With pride to be played for on this occassion, the visitors looking to get something back against Gibraltar, whilst Gibraltar after defeats in League C now sees them heading for a relegation play-off to stay up and wanting to show that it had not been a one-off that they could beat teams at this level.
There was little of the friendly atmosphere as teams warmed up. The visitors Liechtenstein had arrived focused and determined in their warm-up with their head coach watching over Gibraltar’s initial warm-up session sizing up the team.
There would be few differences from the team Liechtenstein had met in the Nations League. Tjay De Barr was making his return after a years absence and Scott Wiseman was missing. However, Bernardo Lope was a new addition which the visitors had not met before.
For Gibraltar this was a further chance to stamp their mark and make their own statement as to why they deserved to be seen as a League C side and no longer just a minnow.
With rain having swept across Gibraltar during the morning the prospects of filling the stands had always been doubtful. As kick off approached the brave few who dared watch under the threatening rain clouds started to arrive as the rain held off for the start.
With Lee Casciaro and Tjay De Barr once again partnering upfront the fans could at least hope for some offensive football from Gibraltar and they were to get it.
It was a strange start as Tjay started pushing a player to the ground after Liechtenstein fiegned the start. The incident highlighting how this was far from a friendly.
The tackles were coming in from early on as Gibraltar went on offensive from the start.
The first yellow came after four minutes after Tjay was pulled back as he took on the defence at the centre.
Gibraltar moments later were forced to scramble a ball away from the goalmouth after giving a free kick away. Dayle blocking from the ground and between Chipolina and Annesely clearing the danger.
Gibraltar then saw a goal disallowed on the eleventh minute for offside as they took the game back to the visitors.
Gibraltar was to score just two minutes later. With Britto and Olivero advancing their lines Gibraltar forced a throw-in close to the corner flag. Roy Chipolina rising high to head in for the first from a long throw.
Gibraltar maintained the momentum with defenders going forward to support play as Gibraltar looked for a second.
Tjay was to cause mayhem for Liechtenstein and he took on defenders down the flank and put in a great ball. Initially miscued in front of goal, the ball ended at the feet of Walker who struck with venom. His shot blocked on the line by the arm of a defender. Walker not just scoring Gibraltar’s second from the spot kick but also ensuring Liechtenstein went down to ten men after just twenty minutes.
Two minutes later Gibraltar should have had a second penalty but were denied even though it looked like a clear foul.Pressing high Gibraltar started to dominate possession at one point making twenty passes before the visitors touched the ball to the chants of ‘we got the ball.”
On the half hour after another twenty odd short passes Jayce put through Ethan Britto with a lovely chip which saw Liechtenstein struggle to block the subsequent shot. A Gibraltar player getting struck on the back by the ball and denying Gibraltar its own third.
The latter part of the first half saw Liechtenstein gain some ground on the field but had few opportunities with Gibraltar having the better chances.
Gibraltar was to make a change at halftime with Jolley coming on for Sargeant. Liechtenstein also made a change replacing their goalkeeper, who kept a clean sheet.
The first three five minutes saw Dayle Coleing make a save but Gibraltar responded with a ball going just wide off the post and another hitting the post as they went on the offensive.
Gibraltar once again pressed high and penned the visitors back to the chants from the east stand faithful.
On the 56th minute Britto, who was threatening upfront behind De Barr came close to scoring. A floated cross from Walker met by Britto behind the defence and going across goal.
Liechtenstein made two further changes with half an hour of play still left leaving just more two substitutions whilst playing with just the ten men, and struggling.
Conceding a free kick at the far end on the 61st minute Liechtenstein were defending deep with all ten men in their own box.
Gibraltar was to see the ball go across goal on the 63rd minute as Liechtenstein struggled to clear their defence.
It was the turn of Tjay De Barr to put the ball just over the bar after a perfectly threaded ball by Lee Casciaro. Gibraltar could have had five more goals with the near misses seen.
Liechtenstein responded with their own attempt at goal but Coleing, who had not had much to do, went down well to collect.
It was an immediate response from Gibraltar with Lee Casciaro with one of his long runs putting in a good ball forcing a corner after a long kick by Coleing.
Tjay was to come off for Reece Styche with Liechtenstein made two further changes.
Ribas was then to bring on Julian Valarino for Lee Casciaro on the 74th minute completing the replacement of the initial front men.
Julian was to have his first shot at goal just four minutes later. Collecting well and his shot screaming across goal. The youngster causing trouble for the visitors defence.
In the 80th minute the referee saw how he had lost control of the match after Valarino was kicked on the ground with only yellow cards shown. A subsequent melee, reacting to the incident saw Gibraltar’s bench getting involved with Liechtenstein players as the scenes turned momentarily ugly. The incident is likely to be investigated with some of the behaviour from the visiting side likely to raise eyebrows. Both teams likely to face some form of disciplinary action.
Gibraltar was to make three more changes with Joseph Chipolina, Jamie Coombes and Nicholas Pozo coming on.
Walker, Britto and Annseley coming off.
Gibraltar’s edge had nevertheless been lost although giving Liechtenstein little on the ball.
With three minutes added time Gibraltar was to head for victory with some comfort.
The final whistle saw players put behind them the momentarily lapse which had marred the match shaking hands as they departed.
Gibraltar came away with another victory against Liechtenstein and stamped their position as no longer one of the minnows.
Gibraltar next plays Andorra on Saturday in a match which will be the last at the Victoria Stadium. Hoping that this Wednesday’s performance will see fans turn up enmasse.
Pics by Christian Correa / C Correa Photography