Salanovic sinks Gibraltar's hopes with two goals against run of play
Gibraltar will depart Lichtenstien knowing that only the two goals from Salanovic were the difference between themselves and Lichtenstien in a 2-0 defeat away from home.
Gibraltar entered the match against Lichtenstein with Julio Ribas placing his trust in his first eleven.
With Roy Chipolina just out of injury and the team having put in a good performance on Thursday against Macedonia this was Ribas' chance to demonstrate his faith and confidence in his first eleven.
Even before Gibraltar kicked off the news was already out that Macedonia who had beaten them 2-0 had also beaten Armenia just hours earlier by the same score-line. A further boost to Gibraltar who faced a side who had lost 2-1 against Armenia on Thursday.
Lichtenstein are the closest ranked side to Gibraltar. With a 38,000 population Lichtenstein had the unique situation in which they had no league of their own with most players playing in Switzerland.
Gibraltar came out into the first half with an air of confidence which was immediately translated onto the pitch. The hosts seemed somewhat stunned by the offensive and attacking nature of a Gibraltar side that had a packed midfield with five players drawing a high line of pressure.
As early as the sixth minute a bulldozer-style run by Lee Casciaro set the tone as he took on five players before he was brought down. This lifted Gibraltar's confidence further as they started to control possession and set the pace on the pitch. They, however, were failing in the final third of the pitch with that final ball not coming in for forwards to have their opportunities. the few chances Gibraltar had in those early minutes going wildly off or causing little concern to the keeper. However, it was Gibraltar's possession that seemed to cause the most concern for the hosts.
Gibraltar had a chance to go ahead when Anthony Hernandez saw his shot rattle the crossbar to Gibraltar's dismay.
Even with Gibraltar looking comfortable on the pitch, probably for the first time since entering UEFA, they found themselves behind on the half hour. Salanovic run to the defence. With defenders holding back from challenging the Lichtenstien player took the opportunity to strike low to the far post out of reach of Goldwin who had little chance of saving.
Just three minutes later Gibraltar were lucky to not go further behind when Salanovic did exactly the same this time Goldwin coming to the rescue with a brave block at the player's feet.
Although the goal was a setback Gibraltar maintained their game and continued to press forward. Lee Casciaro forced Lichtenstien's second yellow card of the match as he run away with the ball from deep from his area. A blatant foul to stop his run ensuring he did not get into the opponents penalty area. Gibraltar maintained the pressure until half time forcing Lichtenstien into their own area.
Sykes Garro came on for Alian Pons at the start of the second half.
Gibraltar was to play an impressive and commanding second half in which the controlled the main pace of the game and possession.
Pushing Lichtenstien into their own half it was the hosts who this time were found to be parking the bus in front of the goal as Gibraltar had many a time in previous official matches been criticised for.
With few spaces to work their way through Gibraltar found it hard to captialise on their possession against a team that had pitched themselves inside their half.
Such was the extend of Lichtenstien's depth in their half that long balls from their keeper were only finding Gibraltar defenders.
Gibraltar were nevertheless to be dealt a second big blow which they were not to recover from. Jack Sergeant who had struggled against goalscorer Salanovic, found himself being beaten on the run once again. Giving away a freekick the forward made no mistake as he put the ball into the penalty area. Once again Gibraltar's fine-tuning problems as Ribas had pointed out in the previous match became apparent. A lack of focus on marking allowed Lichtenstien to score their second through Kuhne. This one of only a handful of rare attempts by Lichtenstien to go forward after being pinned back for most of the second half.
Even bringing on Reeces for young Debarr who had performed well, but already had a yellow to his name was not enough to provide Gibraltar with the opportunity to score. Gibraltar having played one of their best matches in terms of possession and command of the ball, producing some excellent play through midfield, still found themselves at the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline.
In a match that Gibraltar had dominated the harsh realities of football reared their heads as Gibraltar remained without a point from their first two matches in the Nations League. However Gibraltar's performance away from home had for the second time this week provided evidence of some positive aspects which have given rise to increased hope that Gibraltar can find a route to gaining points and results in the future.