Europa earned a very credible 0-0 draw against Legia Warsaw tonight, while earlier in the week, St Joseph’s fought valiantly but eventually fell to defeat against Rangers.
Photo © Europa FC/C Correa Photography
Both teams went into the week with home games against the bigger European sides, with Saints first up on Tuesday against the Scottish giants. A decent crowd, aided by 900+ Rangers fans, saw the Gers run out comfortable 4-0 winners, although it took until the second half for Saints resistance to be broken down.
Two quickfire second half goals from Ryan Jack, and Liverpool loanee Sheyi Ojo put the game to bed essentially, and Steven Gerrard’s side added gloss to their victory with efforts just going over the line from Borna Barisic, and Alfredo Morelos. Saints now know that realistically their European journey will be over next week, after a visit to Ibrox.
Meanwhile, tonight saw Europa go toe-to-toe with an established European side in Legia Warsaw, 13-time champions of Poland and a familiar name to those who watch European football. In an impressive performance, which saw Europa have an almost level share of possession, and more efforts, the two sides ultimately could not be separated, and Europa go to Warsaw knowing they haven’t conceded an away goal, and have every chance of an historic progression to the next round.
Rafael Escobar started with a couple of changes from the team who beat Sant Julia 4-0 last week, including the return of Alex Quillo from suspension, while Ethan Jolley came in as one of four Gibraltarian’s starting the game. And it was Jolley who was arguably man of the match, as he put in a full-blooded performance for 90 minutes, getting stuck in with the more physically imposing Polish side. Now Jayce Olivero has joined, competition at left-back is fierce at Europa, but Jolley put in a performance that deserves him keeping that spot next week.
Both teams had the ball in the net, but the offside flag denied both teams – however both teams also had a big chance go wide in a second half which saw both teams throw caution to the wind at the end. With a good crowd in attendance, and an estimated 40,000 people watching the official stream of the game, many eyes were on Europa, and they impressed with their play, especially in midfield.
The result additionally gives Gibraltar a further coefficient boost, helping to further solidify their position of holding four European spots in future seasons – should Europa qualify next week, they face either KuPS of Finland, or Belarussian side Vitebsk – the Finns coming out 2-0 victors today.