Liam Walker’s 89th minute deflected free kick saw Gibraltar win only their second ever full international since joining UEFA in 2013, as they beat Latvia 1-0 at the Victoria Stadium.
Photo (C) C Correa Photography
Latvia, who two years ago beat Gibraltar 5-0 at the same stadium, were this time more than matched by Desi Curry’s side, with the interim manager giving the perfect audition should he want the role permanently going forward.
There were also impressive debuts for goalkeeper Kyle ‘Chino’ Goldwin and Louie Annesley, with the defender a last-minute replacement for the injured Joseph Chipolina. With Gibraltar back at the Victoria Stadium, a near-full house were rewarded for their patience and loyalty during the Faro years with a cracking performance as Gibraltar battled brilliantly against the side 131st in the world going into this game.
The pressing game that the Gib players utilised was noticeable, and while every player battled and showed their worth in front of the home fans (and a small band of about 40 Latvian away fans), the performances of the likes of Chino, Annesley, Jake Gosling and Jack Sergeant to name just four stood out considerably.
Latvia had set up to bombard the box with crosses but Gib United keeper Chino dealt with them efficiently, while up front Lee Casciaro was as good as ever harassing the Latvian defence, before he unfortunately limped off with a suspected hamstring injury.
His sub, George Cabrera, battled tirelessly despite the notable height disadvantage and it was his counter attack that eventually led to the free kick which saw the winner go in. Meanwhile, with a number of Under 21s in the squad due to injury and Curry placing his faith in youth, exciting Lincoln attacking midfielder Tjay De Barr made his international debut too, with the 18-year-old being thrown in at the deep end.
Notably, today’s win sees Gibraltar earn their first ever FIFA ranking points (the previous win/draws were before acceptance into FIFA), and they will now move off the bottom of the World Rankings when next month’s rankings are announced.
For the national team, preparations now begin in earnest for the Nations League in the autumn, with confidence sure to be boosted after the performance today.