It was a proud moment for Gibraltar on Tuesday evening as they took part in their first ever UEFA international match.
After a successful Team54 campaign, Gibraltar became a UEFA member in May and faced Slovakia in their first game.
Slovakia are no pushovers. After all, they defeated Italy 3-2 at the last World Cup and progressed to the knockout stages at the expense of their opposition.
However, that was four years ago and this time round they failed to make it to Brazil. For this match, many players were rested including Martin Skrtel and Marek Hamsik.
Gibraltar’s team were facing a moment of history but it wasn’t full of unknown names as you may expect. Lining up for the Gibraltarians were ex-Premier League defender Danny Higginbotham and Barnsley’s Scott Wiseman.
The game started as many would expect, with Slovakia dominating and Gibraltar soaking up the pressure.
Freiburg’s Guede had an early shot superbly saved by the legs of Jordan Perez in the Gibraltar net, while at the other end Liam Walker had a long-range free-kick saved.
Half hour passed and it was still goalless, with Gibraltar perhaps surprising a few. The most impressive factor was the style the Gibraltarians tried to play, despite not getting much of the ball.
As the game edged towards the interval Slovakia had two great chances to take the lead. The first led to Daniel Duarte having to clear the ball off the line and a few minutes later a diving header went just wide- but the keeper would claim he had it covered.
Slovakia continued to press and create space but failed to really test Jordan Perez in the Gibraltar net. At half-time, it was goalless.
In the second-half the onslaught continued. Slovakia committed men forward, while Gibraltar did the opposite and defended strongly.
Substitute Kyle Casciaro had to make a very important block after Slovakia cut-back a free-kick, with the ball probably finding the net if he didn’t get in the way.
Slovakia striker Bakos forced another save from Jordan Perez, who was having a great game.
Unfortunately, Gibraltar winger Robert Guilling was forced to be stretchered off with 25 minutes to go.
The substitutes had been made and it was now down to the eleven men on the field to see out the game. A draw would be a remarkable result for the Gibraltarians and that was what they were close to achieving.
As the game entered the final stages, Gibraltar were still under the cosh but holding their own. Impressive performances from Jordan Perez and Danny Higginbotham had played their part hugely.
Perez was forced into another save from Sestak’s volley, then made another solid save to deny Guede, who was very impressive for the Slovakians.
3 minutes of time were signalled and Gibraltar were very close to a historic result.
In the 92nd minute, Slovakia had a chance from a corner which cannoned back off the bar.
The new boys survived and celebrated the 0-0 draw like it was a victory. Many expected Slovakia to record a comfortable victory but the boys from the rock were solid and disciplined at the back.