In the last week or so, both Lincoln Red Imps and College Europa have embarked on maiden European campaigns. While both teams exited at the first stage, they can hold their heads high in their home performances especially.
For Lincoln, their first leg against Faroese side HB was at the Victoria, and a packed Victoria Stadium saw the Red Imps earn a 1-1 draw. Joseph Chipolina’s penalty was cancelled out by Levi Hanssen, but it was a good platform for which to travel to Torshavn.
Unfortunately, the first 45 minutes in Torshavn were all but terminal for Lincoln. An abysmal performance saw HB run out 3-0 up going into the break, through goals by Hanssen, Trondur Jensen and Joan Simun Edmundsson, and the game looked over for Lincoln. The introduction of star striker Lee Casciaro at half time seemed to breath life into Lincoln, who came back with goals from George Cabrera and John Paul Duarte, and had chances to level the tie on the night. Unfortunately though they were caught on the counter, and a second Hanssen goal, alongside a good volley from Frodi Benjaminsen saw the Red Imps lose 5-2, and 6-3 on aggregate.
For College, they suffered a baptism of fire in the Europa League. Quick goals by Manuel Sutter and Pascal Schurpf saw the Dolphins 2-0 down after just eight minutes. They managed to steady the ship though, and only one more goal was conceded, as Schurpf got his second in the 72nd minute.
The return leg at the Victoria was a cagier affair, with Vaduz playing comfortably in the knowledge they were all but through. While College rarely threatened to score, they were defensively strong, restricting the chances that the Liechtensteiner outfit had. Lee Coombes sending off changed that though, and sadly for College, Vaduz scored in the 89th minute through Nicolas Hasler.
While the four games in the last eight days or so only saw one draw, both College and Lincoln on the whole put in good displays against more experienced opposition. Gibraltar also got off the mark in terms of coefficient points thanks to Lincoln’s draw, and had College held on, they would have leapfrogged San Marino into 53rd place, earning an extra Europa League spot in the process.
That could happen next year though, with San Marino losing 0.166 of their 0.499 points. A couple of positive results, and Gibraltar can look forward to seeing two teams in the Europa League in coming seasons.