Gibraltar women’s football stamp their mark with historic win (match report)
A historic occasion was lived at the Victoria stadium as Charylann Pizzarello clutched onto a rebound, after seeing her penalty kick saved, to confidently secure Gibraltar’s first ever full international victory at the Victoria Stadium against Liechtenstein.
The goal was not a fluke which had come from a rare opportunity to score as many of Gibraltar’s international goals have come in most other matches across all categories. Instead it was the culmination of an offensive looking Gibraltar team who had been knocking on Liechtenstein’s door throughout the match, finally seeing their efforts pay off.
The match was the third full international Gibraltar Women’s football has played in. The first two a double header against the same side where Gibraltar lost 4-1 and 2-1 respectively in June.
Having learnt their lessons in the first two matches Gibraltar was not to disappoint with a display which left the 500-600 fans attending the match celebrating and enjoying an attacking and fluid game from Gibraltar.
“I am really proud of these team,” commented Edwin Reyes Opposition spokesperson for sports after watching the Gibraltar women’s team win.
Janssen Olivero, head coach of the Gibraltar women’s national squad, who had broken into tears as the final whistle blew was lost for words at the ‘monumental” moment that had been lived at the Victoria Stadium.
The match had been watched partly by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo who was unable to stay beyond half time but had been present to show his support for the women’s team. A handful of league club representatives along with Opposition member Edwin Reyes joined Gibraltar FA officials along with some 500-600 fans who filled two thirds of the west stand spectator seats. Unfortunately Minster for Sport Steven Linares, who had been invited, had been unable to be present for the historic moment that saw women’s football play their first full international on home soil, and win. He was to deliver a public congratulations through social media, “Brilliant result really proud of you all.”
The match had started with some early nerves for Gibraltar. Having dealt with the early threat from Liechtenstein Gibraltar started to settle down playing some fluid short passing football.
It was Gibraltar who had the first chances at goal.
Opportunities came in from Tiffany Viagas, Joelle Gilbert and Shania Robba who along with Reighann Olivero and Kayleigh Ferro where pressing high on Liechtenstein’s midfield and defence and taking the game into the visitors half.
With Charlyann Pizzarello playing solidly at the back and taking the game forwards, and Gibraltar’s defence and midfield standing strong Liechtenstein found themselves with few chances to threaten Gibraltar beyond the top third beyond the halfway line.
Some confident defending by Doody, Cummings and Rowbottom with Borrell linking well between defence and midfield ensured that Gibraltar were not showing any weak links within their structure preventing Liechtenstein with opportunities to step forward.
A confident Kyrelle Revagliatte although playing her role was not to see much threat in her goalmouth.
Gibraltar’s confidence grew as they took the match to halftime with a 0-0 scoreline and a frustrated Liechtenstein already seeing some players booked.
The visitor’s yellow cards were to play their role in the second half as a confident Gibraltar essentially closed its doors at the back which saw Liechtenstein increasingly frustrated.
With Gibraltar playing inside Liechtenstein’s half during the better part of the second half the surging runs and constant fluidity of the passing saw the visitors busy at the back closing their own doors. Some harsh tackles were to be punished by the referees who did not hesitate to show a second yellow card to one of Lichtenstein’s players leaving the visitors with just ten players.
A passionate and determined display by Gibraltar’s young players kept prodding at the visitors defence.
The visitors who had to dig deep to defend against corners and set pieces and the surging runs from the likes of Shania Robba, Charylann, Joelle Gilbert, Reighann Olivero and Tiffany Viagas found themselves having to look for long balls forward to reach the other end. On one rare attack from the visitors Kyrelle was called into action blocking well on a one on one which put paid to Liechtenstein’s attack.
With five minutes to go to the end, Gibraltar who had seen several attempts at goal earned themselves a penalty after a shove from the keeper during a corner play, earning the visiting player a yellow card after dumping the Gibraltar player on the ground.
Charlyann Pizzarello, who had been playing with confidence throughout stepped forward to take the kick only to see her attempt saved. A very quick response from Gibraltar’s number three saw her pounce on the rebound, control and confidently put the ball past the keeper for Gibraltar’s winning goal.
Gibraltar we’re not finished yet and sought another coming close on several occasions in the latter minutes.
As the final whistle blew the celebrations were met by emotional tears from head coach Janssen Olivero and some of his assistants.
Gibraltar woman’s team, who had sought to stamp their mark into Gibraltar’s football history had done so with an impressive display and passion which saw praise from the handful of league club representatives who had attended the match and many a local fan alike.
Gibraltar next faces Liechtenstein on Monday at 6pm at the Victoria Stadium where the team hope to repeat their success.
However, as observers have pointed out, the match will be tougher than this Friday’s with the visitors likely to tighten even further at the back and try and come away with a result themselves. The second encounter seen as possibly the biggest challenge the young Gibraltar womens squad will face.
The match, although leaving fans with something to celebrate after a month in which international football has seen brave displays from national sides but without positive results, still left some concerns over where women’s football stands in relation to the perspective from others. With the match played without a scoreboard where just twenty-four hours earlier a Europa Conference League match had seen a scoreboard erected and used and only brought down that same morning the women were playing and with the lights used in international matches switched off with the normal Victoria Stadium lighting used instead the differences in the facilities provided continued to differ to the dismay of many who support women’s football development.
A disappointing turnout, although lately not limited to women’s football but in general to all matches, also added to the concerns on the game.
However, women’s football had stamped their place in Gibraltar football history with a historic first win and a display which provides optimism for the future.