Jeff Wood got his first draw as Gibraltar boss as his side battled to a well-deserved 0-0 draw against Liechtenstein tonight.
The home side’s best chances fell to Joseph Chipolina and Aaron Payas, but the away side had a goal questionably ruled out in what proved to be their best goalscoring opportunity.
Before the game, a minute’s silence was impeccably observed by all after yesterday’s tragic events in Brussels. The opening minutes of the game were cagey, with neither side truly grabbing hold of the proceedings.
The first chance of the game fell to the hosts. A bit of scrappy play from both teams saw the ball eventually break to Joseph Chipolina; he surged forward and saw his shot flash just wide of the keeper’s far post after 11 minutes.
Jayce Olivero, making his debut for the national team, did not look out of place through the early stages of the game, although he did require the experience of captain Roy Chipolina to clean up after a slightly miscued clearance.
The away side had the ball in the back of the net after 19 minutes, but fortunately for Gibraltar the flag was raised as the ball was fired past Jordan Perez in the Gibraltar goal. Soon after, Liechtenstein fired over the bar from 12 yards out when they really should have tested Perez, as the away side started to push forward with greater threat.
Peter Jehle, making his 117th appearance for the visitors, had to punch a rasping shot from Aaron Payas over the bar. That got the crowd pumped up, as did an impressive bit of individual skill from Joseph, whose shot afterwards forced another corner. Gibraltar were enjoying more of the ball than they had in the qualifiers; showing their individual technical abilities in the process.
The away side had another goal controversially disallowed, as a deflected free-kick was ruled out by the referee for what seemed to be a foul in the wall, much to the annoyance of the away players. Liam Walker would receive the games first booking soon after, after halting a potentially threatening Liechtenstein counter attack by tugging down at the shirt of Salanovic. The away side had a great chance to score near the end of the half, but Perez did well too keep out a shot that ensured parity going into the break.
The away team had a massive chance to take the lead early in the second half, but substitute Wolfinger blazed over from all of five yards out when it was easier to score. Soon after, Anthony Bardon went down injured and was replaced by Jack Sergeant in the hosts first change. There were then calls for a penalty after George Cabrera ran into Daniel Kaufmann; these did not interest the referee Ryan Stewart.
Liam Walker was orchestrating most of the Gibraltar attacks and his through ball almost picked out Kyle Casciaro who was stopped only by a clearance from Kaufmann, who was looking good in the heart of the Liechtenstein defence.
The next two changes for Gib saw Payas and Olivero, both excellent on the night, taken off for Jeremy Lopez and Jamie Bosio respectively. Walker again got the crowd excited as his pirouette left two opposing players on the floor but like a lot of Gib’s attacks on the night it unfortunately ended in little.
With ten minutes left, Robert Montovio made his debut as a substitute, sealing a remarkable rise from being a Second Division striker last year for Europa Point. As well as him, Robert Guiling came on for Gib, a double sub that added a bit of freshness to tired legs in the attack.
As the game neared its conclusion, Guilling had a chance to seal a famous victory, however his shot went agonisingly over the bar in the 88th minute. Soon after, a strong tackle on Garcia saw Weiser receive a yellow card, the fifth of a game that was generally clean and played fairly.
The final action of the game saw Gibraltar whip in a free-kick from the right, but Jehle showed his experience to catch the ball and slow down the game. With that, the final whistle went and Gibraltar walked off with a more than well-earned draw.