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Match Report: Gibraltar U21 1-3 Moldova U21

The Victoria Stadium was the venue for an under 21 international match between Gibraltar and Moldova. Despite the hot midday weather and lack of anticipation, both teams were prepared for a competitive game. The small crowd consisted mostly of school children in the east stands, while the west stands remained relatively empty.
The senior teams match against France this Friday having taken most supporters focus.

The atmosphere in the stadium was lively, with the children’s chants adding to the excitement. The match was also live-streamed and had been advertised, which may have contributed to the lower attendance in the west stands. The Gibraltar team warmed up in their new adidas practice kits, while the artificial turf and the heat posed challenges for both teams.

Gibraltar started the match strongly, taking an offensive posture and quickly gaining an advantage. Within three minutes, a confident run by Jessop down the left flank led to a goal by Dylan Borges, putting Gibraltar in the lead. The crowd erupted in celebration, adding to the already noisy atmosphere.

Moldova responded by pushing forward and forcing a corner, but Gibraltar’s defense dealt with the threat well. Moldova struggled to find a way through Gibraltar’s defense in the early stages of the match. However, vulnerabilities in Gibraltar’s defense allowed Moldova an opportunity, and they managed to equalize with a penalty in the 26th minute.

Gibraltar almost took the lead again immediately after the restart, but Moldova’s defense held firm. However, Gibraltar’s defensive shortcomings cost them as Moldova capitalized on a defensive error, taking the lead. Livingstone received a yellow card, further highlighting some of Gibraltar’s defensive struggles.

As the first half progressed, chances became scarce, and Moldova entered halftime with a 2-1 lead. Gibraltar made changes during the break, bringing on Julian del Rio, which boosted their confidence and led to more offensive play in the early minutes of the second half.

Gibraltar introduced Bartolo as a substitute for Borge, adding a new dimension to their front line. Despite some lackluster defending, Gibraltar avoided conceding a goal in the 63rd minute when Moldova failed to capitalize on a defensive mistake. The game mainly played out in the center third of the field during the early part of the second half.

In the 66th minute, a clumsy foul gave Moldova a free kick in a dangerous position. Moldova took advantage of this opportunity, scoring a well-curled free kick that extended their lead to 3-1. Tensions escalated after the goal, with a minor scuffle occurring on the field. Gibraltar was fortunate not to receive a red card, as officials missed an attempted headbutt.

With 15 minutes remaining, both teams made several changes. Gibraltar struggled to break through Moldova’s defense in the final moments of the match, wasting two corners. Despite six minutes of injury time, Gibraltar couldn’t find the net again, resulting in a 3-1 victory for Moldova.

This loss highlighted Gibraltar’s need to instill some added confidence across their squad’s ability and address defensive mistakes, especially when playing in a more defensive mode. The selectors now needing to address some of Gibraltar’s shortcomings as they prepare to face Sweden U21 on Monday.
Overall, the match provided an exciting atmosphere, with Gibraltar U21 showcasing on occasions the abilities that exist at individual level and which at times did not emerge to their detriment.

Photo courtesy Gibraltar FA

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