Lincoln Red Imps will face Romanian champions CFR Cluj in the Second Qualifying Round of the Champions League after a 5-0 demolition of CS Fola Esch yesterday at the Victoria Stadium.
Photo (C) David Roberts
Lincoln, who drew the first leg 2-2 in Luxembourg after being 2-0 up, were ruthless on this occasion against their visitors, putting five goals past two different keepers across the 90 minutes to win 7-2 on aggregate.
Mick McElwee started with seven Gibraltarian’s on the pitch, including the returning Chino in goal, while Fola Esch manager Sebastien Grandjean made five changes from the side that drew the first leg – however it did not have anywhere near the desired impact.
Liam Walker’s corner in the first half was headed at goal by Roy Chipolina, and rebound fell kindly to Tjay De Barr to open the scoring for Lincoln. Chipolina then cleared one off the line for his side, before Lincoln doubled their lead on 38 minutes. De Barr, who had a very impressive game, was fouled by keeper Thomas Hym, who was shown a yellow card, and Walker stepped up to double the Lincoln lead.
10 minutes after the break, Lincoln broke free of the Fola Esch defence, and De Barr squared it to Kian Ronan who fired his effort impressively into the top corner and make it 3-0. The tie was all but over already, but it was rubber-stamped when Hym, who had a poor night in goal, gave away a second Lincoln penalty and picked up a second yellow for his troubles. Walker stepped up and fired a second penalty past sub keeper Emanuel Cabral, while there was still time for a 5th, as Kike unselfishly squared the ball to De Barr for his second of the evening, and Lincoln’s 5th – the 5-0 scoreline is the biggest by a Gibraltarian team in Europe, surpassing Europa’s 4-0 success against Andorran side Sant Julia in 2019.
Lincoln will now face Romanian champions CFR Cluj, who stumbled through in extra time against Bosnian side Borac. Leading 3-1 from the first leg, Cluj lost 2-0 in 90 minutes but benefitted from the scrapping of the away goals rule – they then won the tie in the 118th minute. The first leg will be in Gibraltar on Tuesday 20th July at 6pm, with the second leg in Romania on Wednesday 28th July at 7:30pm.
An added bonus for Lincoln is that they are guaranteed a minimum of six more matches in Europe this season, and at very worst will reach the playoff stage of the Europa Conference League – should they win one more two-legged tie this season, they will make history and be guaranteed to be first ever Gibraltarian team to qualify for the group stage of a European football competition.