A clever finish from substitute Dylan Borge in the second-half was enough for Europa to take all 3 points in a 1-0 win vs a hard-working, determined Glacis side.
Photo (C) David Roberts
Europa were boosted by the return to the match-day squad of centre-back pairing Olmo and Sergio Sanchez – Rafa Escobar’s team have been using the makeshift pairing of full-back Ethan Jolley and midfielder David Polaco in recent weeks at the back. Meanwhile, for Glacis, James Castle returned to the starting lineup, while Salvatore Gallo dropped to the bench.
The first half was a noticeably quiet affair, with Glacis ensuring Europa could not muster up too many strong efforts on goal in the opening 45. Goalkeeper Marcos Zappacosta was the busier of the two keepers, but aside from a very good point-blank save on the 19th minute, his action was rather routine. Glacis did defend more than Europa, but were looking to catch them on the counter – one such example of this just before the break saw them force a corner off a poor back pass/clearance, but they failed to make anything of it.
The second half followed a similar pattern, until Europa made a double change, taking off Blas Alvarez and Mikey Yome for Alex Quillo and Dylan Borge. However, it was Glacis who almost took the lead, with Christian Lopez in the Europa goal having to make a smart stop to deny Wessel Witbreuk.
That save would prove to be vital, as a minute later, Europa went ahead. After an initial shot was saved by Zappacosta, the ball was put back into the six-yard box, where Borge cleverly backheeled the ball into the bottom corner – the 17-year-old now has eight goals this season in the league – only three players in the league have scored more this season (Juanfri, Kike and Boro), and the teenager has three more goals than the next highest Gibraltarian goalscorer – his team-mate and Europa captain Liam Walker.
Glacis responded by bringing on veteran striker Michele Di Piedi, formerly of Sheffield United, and the 39-year-old made a combative start, getting booked after less than a minute of coming on. The Italian added a bit more bite to the Glacis attack now, who were chasing back to try and claw a point or more from the game, but, apart from one chance where Lopez had to become a sweeper-keeper to snuff out a potential attack, Europa showed very good game-management to slow the game down and nullify the threat from Glacis until the final whistle.
Europa stay on top for the time being, at least until St Joseph’s game vs Magpies on Sunday, while for Glacis, while they remain sixth, they only have one game remaining, vs Lincoln, so they realistically need to beat Mick McElwee’s side to have any hope of keeping that top six spot come the split.
Europa: Lopez; Jolley, Alvarez (Quillo, 57), Juampe, Gallardo (Ayew, 80), Walker, Yome (Borge, 57), Olivero, Carrascal, Polaco, Willy (Sanchez, 67)
Unused Subs: Romero, Olmo, Bautista
Glacis: Zappacosta; Yeo, N. Castle, Derksen, Brinkman (McGowan, 88), Smith, Witbreuk (Di Piedi, 80), Borghi (Gallo, 88), Kaleba, J. Castle, Londero
Unused Subs: Fluxa, Muir, Omari, K. Castle
Yellow Cards: Gallardo; Smith, Londero, Omari, Di Piedi
Red Cards: None