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Kike at the double as Europa win Pepe Reyes Cup

A brace from Kike saw Europa FC win 2-0 in the Pepe Reyes Cup and gain early bragging rights over their domestic rivals Lincoln in the 2016/17 season curtain-raiser.

Photo Credit: C Correa Photography

The debutant scored twice in the second half to secure Europa the victory in front of a respectable crowd at the Victoria Stadium, split evenly between fans of either side.

The opening stages of the game were cagey and in truth little happened apart from Kyle Casciaro picking up a booking after 15 minutes for taking out the lively Kike.

Liam Walker, playing against his former club on his Europa debut, had a decent effort comfortably saved by Navas, who seconds previously had to palm away a Europa cross-cum-shot as last season’s league runners up grew into this game.

Ivan Moya was the first Europa player to see yellow for a late tackle on Calderon, despite the Lincoln player not making any fuss over the tackle. This was followed by a first half sub, with Yeray, presumably injured being replaced by new signing, Cristhian Colman.

Europa almost took the lead with the best chance of the game just before half time, but Kike’s deflected effort was saved superbly by veteran Lincoln keeper Raul Navas.

The refereeing was the subject of fans ire in the second half, with a number of decisions questioned by fans of both sides. Most notably a number of questionable fouls were given that kept breaking up the flow of a game that desperately needed a sustained period of quality from either side.

One decision the official definitely got right was to book Alex Quillo after his rash challenge to try and stop a Lincoln attack. The accumulation of fouls though was not helping the quality of a game between two sides who appeared not to be quite up to speed in terms of match fitness as is often the case with these season-opening affairs.

Europa then took the lead just after the hour mark with the first real act of quality; a sumptuous through ball was latched on to by Kike and he fired past Navas to send the left side of the main stand, where the Europa faithful celebrated. In truth, they should have had reason to celebrate again soon after, however Walker sliced his shot horribly wide from close range after another Europa counter attack caught Lincoln out.

Lincoln reacted by taking off Kyle Casciaro and replacing him with youngster Leon Clinton as manager Julio Ribas looked to ensure his side did not find themselves completely out of this fixture. New signing Colman was in the book soon after, as Walker showed some of the skill that made Europa bring him into the club before being hacked down by the Uruguayan.

Substitute Clinton almost set up the equaliser, as his cross found Jean Carlos Garcia at the far post, but the Gibraltar international could not sort his feet out to finish. That proved vital, as Europa doubled the lead minutes later. Walker put in a marvellous cross and Kike was there to finish it past Navas once again. Walker’s performance was reminiscent of how he played for Lincoln in the Rock Cup Final earlier this year; not necessarily involved heavily for large parts but the midfielder pulled out a moment of brilliance to create his side a goal.

Europa made their first change of the game late on, with Joselinho being replaced by debutant Sykes Garro as they looked to see out the victory. The game became a bit scrappy late on, with bookings for both sides as a few tired tackles began to fly in. As the board went up for three minutes injury time, Europa bought on their second sub, Yeray replacing Europa’s match-winner Kike as he soaked up the applause from his own fans. That would prove to be the final action in the game, as Europa were crowned winners of the Pepe Reyes Cup.

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