Seven minute Movsisyan hat-trick wipes away Gibraltar's dreams of a play-off
Just as Julio Ribas had asked his players to forget their previous two victories last month he will surely be asking his players to put aside Friday's defeat and concentrate on the positives.
Gibraltar was humbled by an Armenian side who had Chicago Fire professional Movsisyan scoring four goals in a 6-2 victory, with three goals coming in a quick fire seven minute spell in the second half.
A full-to-capacity crowd had greeted Gibraltar in its third home match in the Nations League. A buoyant and confident Gibraltar side had brushed aside Armenia's initial first minute pressures as the match kicked off and started to find their own way.
Within the first ten minutes Lee Casciaro stole a ball in the centre of the field giving young eighteen year old TJay de Barr a chance to run to goal, rounding the keeper as he did to put Gibraltar in the lead in the first ten minutes.
The well over 2500 crowd erupted in a roar as Gibraltar took the lead and seemed to be heading to capitalise. Armenia, who had been among the favorites to take the group at the start of the Nations League, alongside Macedonia had not only fallen behind but had found themselves with at least three bookings in just seven minutes of play.
The first half saw Gibraltar maintain their discipline, even though they were placed under constant pressure and were to see Armenia using all their armoury in trying to unsettle the semi-pros from Gibraltar.
With the crowd very much behind them Gibraltar's defence maintained their composure with Joseph and Roy Chipolina both ensuring that the centre of defence was well covered.
Gibraltar's work rate was clear to see as even Lee Casciaro assisted at the back in more than one occasion covering behind Jack Sergeant in support before next being involved in key plays which brought some danger inside Armenia's half.
The constant threat of young De Barr saw him the target of some harsh challenges as Armenia's defence tried to stamp their authority.
It was on the 27th minute when Armenia came back with their equaliser. A soft foul given by the referee close to the edge of the box saw Movsisyan meet the ball and push it across the line. Roy Chipolina's last ditch attempt to clear had led many to believe that the ball had not crossed the line, but officials, well placed by the sidelines had a clear view on how the ball had been cleared from inside the goal.
Gibraltar went out to try and grab a second. Although stretching their lines whilst doing so they created several chances before the half time break.
The second half saw Armenia start with all cylinders at full thrust. Pushing Gibraltar back, a mistake at the back saw the Chicago Fire player score his second within three minutes of the half.
Losing their focus at the back immediately after this goal Gibraltar saw Movsisyan make no mistake again just four minutes later with another goal. And then again just two minutes after for his fourth goal.
With the scoreline now at 1-4 in favour of Armenia the crowd fell silent as Armenia took control of the match. The Chicago Fire player had effectively destroyed in just seven minutes any hope Gibraltar had of bidding for promotion from League D. Stunned by the sudden turn around of their fate Gibraltar had suddenly made their task into a near to impossible task. With a fifth coming just twelve minutes later Gibraltar were heading for a heavy defeat with little chance of any success on this occasion. Their best option now of ensuring that they provided what their head coach Ribas had asked of them. To give it their all throughout the ninety minutes and not merely surrender as they had done previously when they saw twenty-two defeats.
Gibraltar's resilience emerged as the players rose to changes made by the manager and instead of merely stepping back and defending so as not to let more through Gibraltar set themselves to go forward.
Led by Tjay De Barr, Liam Walker and Lee Casciaro all of which started to make their own surges forward Gibraltar started to advance their lines more and started to show more confidence going forward.
With De Barr moved into a more midfield role and Adam Priestly coming on Gibraltar found themselves with some weight upfront. Preistley started to cause Armenias defence some concerns as he battled upfront.
His presence seemed to be a shrewd choice by Ribas as Priestley first outrun his marker to see a short go wide. Then on the 78th minute he managed to once again shrug off his marker and slipped a goal past Armenia's keeper for Gibraltar's second.
This saw the crowds lifted as they responded to Gibraltar players increased appetite to take the game forward more instead of just sit back and try not to concede more.
Gibraltar's valiant effort was to backfire on them as Armenia extended their lead to make it 6-2 in injury time. In a counter which Gibraltar claimed was offside Karapetyan received to score Armenia's sixth and final goal.
Although this was to be a heavy defeat for Gibraltar on home soil the Gibraltar players were given a standing ovation by its supporters who praised their efforts in trying to battle on even though the scoreline had been turned totally against them in the second half.
Praise came even from the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo who wrote on social media " Always proud of the performance of our @GibraltarFA team. Tonight is no different. Highs & lows. Ups & downs. Always #Gibraltar. Always #Yanito. Red, White & #Proud!"
Gibraltar will now face Macedonia on Monday. With the latter having beaten Lichtenstein 2-0 just a point will ensure their passage to League C. Armenia will be hoping that Gibraltar repeat their previous form against them in Armenia and Lichtenstein immediately after which saw Gibraltar taking all three points. A victory by Gibraltar would provide Armenia with an opportunity for promotion if they were to beat Lichtenstein, something which would ensure Gibraltar finishes third in the group table.