Gibraltar U21 fell to a 5-0 defeat against Russia U21 in the second part of their qualifying double-header.
Photo (C) C Correa Photography
Georgi Melkadze, who early in the first half was booked for diving, eventually got a hat-trick, while Roman Tugarev and an Erin Barnett own goal consigned Gib U21 to a second defeat in the international break.
For 40 minutes or so Gib were holding their own against their more illustrious opponents, but Melkadze struck twice before half-time, including a controversial second where the Russians chose not to kick the ball out for the injured Thomas Isola (who needed treatment until after the half-time whistle and had to be subbed) and instead used their temporary man advantage to double their lead.
After the half-time whistle, more controversy occurred, as Russian midfielder Ayaz Guliev, directly in front of tonight’s officials, headbutted an opponent, only for the referee to somehow deem the headbutt worthy of a yellow card instead of a red. The poor call not to show a red may not have affected the result, but definitely impacted on the final score which flattered a Russian team that, while incredibly quick, had to rely on pushing the limits of the game in order to handle the Gib opponents.
Gib held on until the third went in as Erin Barnett diverted into his own net; the Gib United defender had no choice but to get in the way as a Russian attacker would seemingly have tapped in instead. After that, most heads dropped, not for the first time, and the combination of that, plus a largely flat crowd in the second half, saw the game more than over as a contest.
Melkadze got his hat-trick with 20 minutes to go, before Tugarev made it five and Russia had sealed up an eventually comfortable victory. For Gib, they must prepare for September’s qualifier against Austria on the 11th. Until then, the most important thing for a lot of these players, especially the local-based players, is to ensure they are playing regularly at their current club, or else look for alternate teams in the summer to ensure they don’t stall in their development.