Gibraltar created football history on Tuesday October 16 when they claimed victory over Liechtenstein coming from 1-0 behind to win 2-1 in their fifth group 4 match in League D. The second consecutive victory in the same week was Gibraltar’s first official competitive win on home soil in front of a sellout crowd.
The win was described by football officials as probably “the most important moment in Gibraltar’s entire football history.” Gibraltar’s Uruguayan head coach, Julio Ribas, even though having obtained fourteen titles during his career described the win as “the happiest night in his entire life,” as he spoke to the press after the match.
The win, which comes immediately after having recorded their first ever win in an official competitive match last Saturday against Armenia, now places Gibraltar second in Group 4 in League D alongside Armenia. With two victories and six points to their name.
Gibraltar started the match positively with George Cabrera the only change in the line-up Julio Ribas made following Saturday’s win. Cabrera, who had come in for Jamie Coombes proved a difficult proposition for Liechtenstein who at first found themselves under pressure.
However, Gibraltar were struck an early blow when Dennis Salanovic struck in the 15th minute. An uncustomary hesitation from both Joseph Chipolina and Roy Chipolina in defence allowed the ball through to him finding himself with only goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin to beat.
This quietened down the local crowd who had filled the stadium on the day. The visitors started to gain some ground, but it was Gibraltar’s continued resolute battling which soon saw the supporters becoming the crucial 12th players as many had hoped they would become.
With the score at 1-0 for the visitors at half time a standing ovation from the crowd, as the players walked to the tunnel, became one of the key turning points. Buoyed by the support and a tactical change by Ribas who brought on Jamie Coombes Gibraltar found themselves penning the visitors into their own half as Gibraltar became more offensive in nature.
It was Lee Casciaro, whose relentless work spurred on Gibraltar, that won the ball for them leading to the equalizer. Running to the line a cross in saw Cabreras, who plays alongside him at Lincoln Red Imps meet the cross with his head for the first goal on 61 minutes.
Victoria Stadium erupted as the score went level. The next five minutes became crucial, as Gibraltar with the supporters making themselves heard put Liechtenstein under intense pressure. Gibraltar won two consecutive corners one after the other, forcing a third. Sensing blood and with a deafening crowd backing them it was this time Joseph Chipolina who rose above the defense to header in the second on the 66th minute.
There were unbelievable scenes at Victoria Stadium as the crowd sensed the possibility of a victory.
For the next half hour Gibraltar tightened down and searched for further opportunities as they neared the final whistle. With 96 minutes of the match gone the stadium erupted in what is probably one of the biggest celebrations in football it has seen in years. Players, fans and even Ministers cried in joy as they recorded their second historic victory in just a week.