The Gibraltar national side are through to the final of the Gibraltar Senior Festival Cup after coming back from 1-0 down at half-time to beat Los Barrios 2-1 in a hot-tempered affair.
A crowd of roughly 2500 people packed out the main stand of the Victoria Stadium, a bit less than the 4000 people estimated to turn up. However, the largely Gibraltarian crowd were in full voice to cheer on their team in what was a rare opportunity to watch the national side in action at the Victoria Stadium. The Gibraltar team had a few injuries to deal with prior to the match, and the most noticeable name not in the first eleven was Al Greene, who was on the bench, nursing an ankle injury.
The first half was a very poor affair, with both sides giving the ball away freely, and both keepers had little to do at their goals. The game sparked up briefly when John Paul Duarte lashed out at the Los Barrios captain rather unnecessarily, and was rather lucky perhaps to only receive a booking. The first half looked like it was going to end on a dull note, but with the second shot on target came the opening goal, in the 44th minute. Los Barrios had a free kick, and what looked like a rather poor free kick from the Los Barrios number 7 managed to go through a self-created gap in the Gibraltar wall, and slip under the body of goalkeeper Jordan Perez. The goal silenced the Gibraltarian crowd at half time, but it did not take long for them to get back into voice.
Just four minutes into the second half, and Gibraltar got an equalizer akin to Los Barrios’ first goal. Roy Chipolina seemed set to lay off the free kick to John Paul Duarte, but instead took a shot, which rolled under the Los Barrios wall, who had jumped up a bit too early, and managed to avoid the keeper, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Gibraltar managed to take the lead just eight minutes later as well. A long ball up field was collected by Lee Casciaro, who used his vast experience for the national team to control the ball well under pressure, and slot past the onrushing keeper.
The game slowed down a bit after that, with a few moments of tension, and both teams perhaps taking longer than necessary to get up after being fouled. Los Barrios put Gibraltar under immense pressure as the game neared an end, causing goal line clearances and a clearance from goalkeeper Jordan Perez which wouldn’t have been out-of-place from a defender. Numerous injuries, such as a double injury to Gibraltar when one of the defenders went flying in to block a shot, taking out the keeper, who took numerous blows as the match went on, meant that six minutes of added time was signalled by the referee (by way of holding up six fingers), but Gibraltar held on to claim a first win against Spanish opposition for some time, and ensured that the fans went home in a very happy mood.
Final Score: Gibraltar 2-1 Los Barrios
My Man of the Match: Lee Casciaro: Got himself around well, hassling the defenders, and deserved the goal that ensured Gibraltar won the match. Dropped to midfield at the end when he was tiring, which helped the team hold on at the end.