Three matches, zero points and one goal - the Europa decline continues as they are defeated by Lynx
Lynx 3-1 Europa
Europa, who had yet to taste victory this season, came out in the first few minutes of the match against Lynx with a determination to show that they were still a competitive side. Facing a Lynx team that had players who had formerly been within their ranks, the green and blacks nevertheless found themselves pushed back just as quickly. Lynx, with six points to their name, were once again looking to compete for the top six spots and place a challenge for a place in Europe, something which they had yet to succeed in. Before them, Europa, who had consistently qualified for European competitions, had yet to show any signs that they were strong enough to challenge for the top six, let alone the top three. The migration away from their squad of most of last season's key players, alongside reports that the club had warned players this summer of financial issues, had seen them start the season with consecutive defeats.
Cancelling each other out in the first ten minutes, play was centered around the middle third of the pitch with neither side taking command of the match. It was not until the tenth minute that Lynx earned themselves a corner from a long punt forward. Willy, a former Europa player, placed the ball to the back post, easily gathered by former national team keeper Jordan Perez, who is now the Europa keeper. However, his clearance saw the ball return to Lynx who chased forward, and a pass across goal ended with a shot by Ruiz, saved well by Perez by his post.
Early tensions were seen after just fifteen minutes as former Europa player Willy didn't take kindly to a challenge. Referee Payas had to calm things down. Within minutes, a backpass by Europa saw Willy intercept the ball and go one-on-one against Perez but saw his final effort hit the wrong side of the post. Europa continued to struggle to keep possession as Lynx once again surged forward. Their attempts to put some pressure on Lynx's defense ended before they arrived at the penalty area in the first twenty-five minutes of the match. Gibraltar international keeper Avellano was yet to be tested as the green and blacks failed to pose any real threat.
Europa's first real chance came on the twenty-fifth minute with a free-kick halfway into Lynx's half. The chance was wasted with a soft ball into the edge of the box which was easily cleared. Europa, nevertheless, had a chance to come back to add pressure with a corner kick just moments later. Again, the ball was placed by the near post and easily cleared with no green and black shirts there.
Flynn provided Lynx with a chance from a counter-attack; however, his pass came seconds too late, leaving Lynx facing an offside call when Jordan Perez had once again been left exposed by his defense, facing a one-on-one. Europa saw an attempt go wide after Avellano failed to get to a long ball put into the middle of the penalty area. With the goal covered by defenders, the final shot went wide of the target as Europa's forward was put under pressure, leaving Avellano exposed.
Lynx responded by earning a corner moments later. The corner kick, swung to the far post, went across the goal with Bilal unable to get a final nod for goal in the 32nd minute. Lynx were once again placed under pressure when their players were slow in chasing back to defend when Europa surged forward. It was only a final lunge to block that prevented Avellano's goal from being tested in the 35th minute. Europa showed that they were still in the game and able to turn the tables on Lynx, who had been dominating play after settling down.
Lynx would finally break the deadlock in the 41st minute. A floated ball into the middle of a packed penalty area saw Europa fail to clear the danger, with the defender's header flicked further behind the defense. This left Gonzalez unmarked with just Jordan Perez to beat. His quickly taken shot left the keeper with little chance to do much as Lynx took the early lead. Europa's defense once again this season was exposed, with mistakes costing them dearly.
Lynx had another chance to add to their score with another failure by Europa to clear the lines, forcing Perez to dive on the ball on the goal line as Lynx players converged on him to pounce on the chance. This was the last opportunity for Lynx as the first half came to an end.
Europa started the second half having made changes, with Del Rio coming on. In the first few minutes, the green and blacks had a chance from a free-kick put into the penalty area without much danger behind it. A slow start by Lynx saw them defending in the early minutes as they lost possession easily. An attempt at goal in the 47th minute slid just past the wrong side of Avellano's post as Europa threatened to level the score.
Just as Europa was looking like the most likely to score, Cruz Perez made a surge into the penalty area on the 50th minute. A tight low cross across the goal was allowed to go through by Willy, ending up behind Europa's defense and into the path of Gonzalez, who only had to tap it in for Lynx's second. Europa, who had struggled throughout the first half to create chances for goals, now faced an uphill struggle to salvage anything from the match.
Europa tried to get back into the match but struggled to make any headway as they reached the first hour of the match. A free-kick close to the far left edge of the box on the 64th minute again saw the ball sent behind the defense with no real danger as forwards were well blocked from reaching the ball. A knock of heads saw Payas stop play, which returned possession to Lynx. Avellano gave the ball back to Europa, but they were forced to restart building from the back again.
As Lynx seemed to be losing their momentum, owner and head coach Albert Parody urged his players to add more energy into their game. The cushion of two goals now saw Lynx sitting back more in defense. A chance for Boula to break saw Alvarez stretch out to challenge, tripping him up at the edge of the box, providing Lynx with a dangerous free-kick. It was Willy who took the free-kick, curling it just wide of the top corner. Europa continued to push Lynx back immediately after but were well held by Lynx's defense, which protected their penalty area well, closing down the space.
With few creative ideas and not much of a route to goal, Europa looked far from a real threat. Their possession saw them play a string of short passes, but with no real effectiveness in creating any real chances. A chance on the 74th minute from a long cross from the flank was nodded over the bar. Europa, who had yet to score this season, still looked as if they were far from changing things.
Things did not get any better for Europa as they approached the final five minutes. Lynx once again dominated possession and pushed them back into their own half. A corner kick on the 81st minute was only cleared to the edge of the box, returning the ball to Lynx who built up through the right flank. Boula tried a shot which was blocked before Europa was able to regain possession through a badly timed challenge, which resulted in a foul.
A great ball by Del Rio from within Lynx's half and across behind the defense was somehow wasted by Europa, who instead of taking a shot, passed it back into the penalty area, giving it back to defenders when there was ample space to take a shot. This highlighted Europa's lack of effective firepower in attack. Jordan Perez prevented Europa from further blushes when a well-timed block with his feet stopped Lynx from adding their third after a further error from defenders left him exposed once again in front of his goalmouth with just two minutes left in the ninety minutes.
Europa finally broke their drought in front of goal. Following some lackluster clearances from Lynx's defense, a ricochet rebounded ball at the edge of the box ended at Labrador's feet who slammed it from close range past Avellano. This was Europa's first goal this season. Flynn could have made it three for Lynx just moments later when he was left alone in front of Perez. His one-touch attempt was well blocked by Perez.
With six minutes of injury time given, Europa's goal brought about a different dynamic after Europa's goal. The match went from end to end. It was in a chase by Orihuela on Boula who was running free to goal that the Europa defender brought down the Lynx player at the edge of the box, resulting in a red card for the Europa defender. Flynn, who had been threatening to score, calmly curled it over the Europa defensive wall and into the top corner, out of Jordan Perez's reach. Lynx made it 3-1 halfway through the six minutes of injury time.
With just ten men on the field, Europa tried to regain the momentum they had started to show after scoring but were met by a solid white wall protecting their lead and closing the space in front of their penalty area. On the 96th minute, Avellano was beaten to the ball by Labrador, but the final header floated over the crossbar. This was the last opportunity at either end as the referee blew the final whistle. Europa, once a front-runner in the league, now sits at the foot of the table with zero points after three matches, while Lynx, on the other hand, moves into third place behind St Joseph and Brunos with nine points after four matches.