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Narrowest of defeats earns Gibraltar women respect at international stage

Gibraltar 4-6 Belgium

At a buzzing Tercentenary Sports Hall Gibraltar women’s futsal were greeted by huge applause as they took to the field against Belgium.
After their 3-3 draw against Moldova Saturday’s match was a crucial one for Gibraltar to ensure that they did not drop to the bottom of the group table. Even more so, a win would take them above Belgium.
Joelle Gilbert was to kick off what was Gibraltar’s must-win match. A good confident move by Gibraltar saw Dahlia Salah with the first shot at goal pushed to corner.
A well taken strike by Joelle Gilbert put Gibraltar in the lead with just seconds into the match.
Joelle coming close soon after after a chipped pass from Tiffany made space for her.
A confident start ensured that Belgium struggled to find a way to goal in the first minutes with Gibraltar keeping their composure.
Jamie Bosio started rotating players early on changing all four outfield players and bringing in Holt, Olivero, Garcia and Victor, keeping Belgium in their toes who also made four changes.
Keeping to playing with a pivot player upfront Gibraltar held Belgium fast outside easy striking positions during the first part of the first half.
Holt was to force a save from Belgium with five minutes gone of the match.
Another quick rotation brought onto the pitch the initial five for Gibraltar.
Belgium came up with their first significant attempt at goal seven minutes into the match. Caitlin responding with a good block to deny them.
Some good pressing also denying Belgium moment later a chance to make something out of a free kick.
Gibraltar was however unable to halt a well timed through ball through the middle which saw Belgium level the score.
A quick rotation saw Gibraltar’s four changes which saw Victor win a foul inside Belgium’s half. The strike going just over the bar.
Some good passing saw Gibraltar have another attempt through Garcia although going well wide off it’s target.
With nine minutes left Caitlin produced a great stop after Belgium had been left Courois free.
Moments later it was Gomboso who struck with the ball squeezing past players at the near post to an unsighted keeper. Adding her second to the scoresheet
A quick break from Arwen Neale provided Molly Karp, who had just come on, with a chance the keeper having to come out to block her.
Gibraltar looked for a way forward.
Gilbert coming in and moments later Olivero for Karp.
A brave but well timed lunge by Olivero stopped Weliokx from striking to goal as they entered the final six minutes of the half.
With tensions rising, and urgency seen on both sides the match started to see more physicality in the challenges.
Keeper Caitlin Robba had another timely intervention coming to block Van Der Berg as she prepared to take her shot after running free past her marker.
A continuous rotation of players was having its positive effects for Gibraltar as they kept changing the dynamics of the game.
Some strong pressing to regain possession from Gibraltar raising the noise in the stadium as Gibraltar looked at trying to bite back to try and level.
However, it was Gamboso again who added another to her tally. Finding herself with space she was to strike home with just over two minutes of the first half left to give Belgium a 1-3 lead. Belgium by this point having regained their confidence and setting the pace.
A one hand palm pushing the ball over the bar denied Belgium a fourth in the final seconds of the half.
Gibraltar started the second half with Tiffany Viagas making a timely last ditch intervention as Belgium sliced through to goal.
After a good block from Caitlin Robba, Joelle Gilbert stole and the ball fell well for Dahlia Salah to put past for a goal to bring the score to a 2-3.
The celebrations did not last long as Van Der Berg added a fourth for Belgium with a minute.
Gibraltar was not yet beaten as they sought to get back into the game. Olivero with a glancing header unable to direct it to target with less than five minutes of the second half played.
Belgium pressing hard forward put through Courtios but once again Caitlin Robba was on hand to force her wide. Robba’s safe hands ensuring moments later a sweeping move by Courtios was stopped before Gomboso could get her foot to it.
Courtios was again involved in another move which saw Gibraltar back peddling as Belgium gained ground.
Gibraltar were able to stem the flow although still unable to find a route beyond the halfway line with ten minutes still to play.
Gibraltar struggled to get out of their half until just 12 minutes into the half. Stealing well the quick break found Olivero in front of goal to strike in to shorten the gap to just the one goal.
Belgium threw everything at Gibraltar in response but were met with a strong defence and a vociferous crowd who placed their support behind their team as they sought another historic result.
Regaining their confidence Olivero had another chances after Viagas stole at the back and laid a pass for her. The curled attempt around the keeping going just past the post.
Belgium took advantage of a mid control to send two attempts at goal but soon found themselves with Gibraltar coming at them again.
With six minutes left Naomi Victor send in corner that squeezed between keeper and post rebounding for back post. Molly Karp and Joelle Gilbert both there to two it in.
Facing the prospect of dropping points against Gibraltar Belgium went all guns out and produced a quick response via a thunderbolt drive from Drumont.
It was end to end now as not teams looked for a result. Gibraltar sensing that they could take something away in the match pressing forward and looking for the equaliser again.
Belgium held fast and slowed down the pace as they protected their lead. Tight defending and short passing instead of surging runs which risked losing possession.
With the clock ticking down Gibraltar fell foul to its own accumulation of fouls. Belgium earning a penalty foul which was send wide over the goal.
It was Lorena Garcia next with a shot blocked for a corner.
The Tercentenary Sports Hall was at its feet as Gibraltar womens futsal was cheered on as they tried to grab the equaliser. Pushing Belgium back.
Molly Karp forced a corner with thirty seconds on the clock.
Joelle Gilbert receiving buy her shot inches away from the post.
As fate had it Belgium scored in the final second of the match to walk away with a 4-6 victory.
Gibraltar womens futsal however receiving a standing ovation from its home supporters who did not lower their support even after the final whistle.

Gibraltar women’s futsal gaining the respect of Gibraltar’s supporters after a string of performances which have seen them praised for the determination, effort and improvements seen. Gibraltar, with just a handful of international Matches under their belt already demonstrating that they were not just the minnows making the numbers.

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