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Thompson: “I’m delighted to be a part of such an already fantastically run football club”

FG caught up with Europa’s new Director of Football, David Thompson, to talk about his new club, what he thinks about a Europa title challenge this season and more.

Photo © C Correa Photography

Europa announced Thompson earlier today as their new Director of Football, so we asked him what his first thoughts were on joining the club: “First and foremost, I’m delighted to be a part of such an already fantastically run football club, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge ahead. We want to take this to the next level, we want to make sure it’s done in the right way as well. Some people can come in and just try to take over and make too many changes. The club is already run very well; it has a fantastic manager, some great players and we just need to add to that a little bit”.

The 43-year-old, from Birkenhead, had an 11-year spell as a footballer in the English game, after originally coming through the books at Liverpool – so we asked Thompson to give a brief description of his career as a player: “Obviously, I started my career at Liverpool when I was 10, I was there for 12 years and I left in the 2000-01 season, but I played with some magical footballers there in my time (Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen), and they were just the local talent coming through. I played with World Cup winners and European Championship winners, and under some great managers. It has always been a learning experience, and that’s something I want to take into my new role here.”

Europa finished second last season, one point off title-winners Lincoln, and part of Thompson’s new role will be help ensure the club are best equipped for another title challenge in the upcoming season starting in October – so we asked the new Director of Football how confident he is of this being the case? “I’m very confident, I think obviously with Covid last year, we were making improvements and unfortunately Covid and the pandemic came and put a halt to that. So we just need to add to what was going on the previous seasons. If we keep making improvements year on year, then we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in this league.”

Finally, we asked Thompson how confident he was that he has all the tools required to build a successful long-term strategy for Europa? “I believe I’ve got the experience and knowledge. I’ve come here to obviously learn; I want to learn from the manager (Rafa Escobar). We’re going to do this together; it’s not going to be one person that’s going to change the direction or fortune of this football club – it’s going to be a team effort and that starts with the players and the manager, and comes right through to me and the board. We’re all going to do it together – teamwork as they say makes the dream work.”

For their part, in a press release today, Europa said: “Europa Football Club, in collaboration with Rocksport International Ltd, are excited to announce the appointment of David Thompson as the Club`s Director of Football. David comes with a highly prestigious track record in the English Premier League, having played for European Giants and 6 times winners of the UEFA Champions League, Liverpool Football Club.”

New club CEO, and Board Member Eddie Yome, said: “This is such an exciting time for everyone at Europa FC with the first team, youth categories and all performing strongly with plenty of development still to come. It’s a privilege to be part of that process, and an honour to work alongside David Thompson, Rafa Escobar and so many other truly outstanding staff all dedicated to delivering success to this club.”

Finally, the club wished to express their thanks to Tommy Keaney and Paul Roberts from Rocksport International for their work in this deal. Thompson’s move is the second ex-English footballer to make a move to Gib, after Bruno’s Magpies announced Dean Holdsworth as Technical Director back in June. Europa open their season against rivals Lincoln on Sunda 17th October.

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Gibraltar’s European sides get season underway

Gibraltar’s four European representatives played their first leg matches this week, with three of them drawing their opening matches in European competition this season.

Photo © David Roberts

After the introduction of the Europa Conference League, Gibraltar had four teams qualify for Europe for the first time – which meant Mons Calpe were making their European bow in the first match of the week involving a local team.

Cesar Vega’s team hosted Andorran’s Santa Coloma at the Victoria Stadium on Tuesday evening. Despite having the better of the first half, they went in behind at the break to a goal by Xavier Puerto. The second half was a complete role reversal – Santa Coloma had numerous opportunities and were denied by Mons keeper Christian Fraiz, before Mons striker Aritz Hernandez, who signed in the summer from Lynx, scored from close range to secure a draw.

Attention then turned to the Champions League, where Lincoln travelled to Luxembourg to face Fola Esch. Mick McElwee’s side appeared to be heading to a win after goals from Fernando Carralero and Ethan Britto gave Lincoln a two-goal lead, but Fola Esch scored twice in little over a minute through Stefano Bensi and Denis Ahmetxheka to secure a 2-2 draw – Lincoln host Fola Esch on Tuesday at 6pm, and ticket information should be released imminently.

Last night, St Joseph’s travelled to Tallinn, which at 3,373km was the longest journey made by any team in the Conference League this week, to face Levadia, but they had a nightmare start going 2-0 down in 10 minutes courtesy of goals from Zakaria Beglarishvili and Ernest Agyiri. Saints tried to battle back but conceded a third from the spot as Marko Putincanin appeared to put the tie beyond doubt. However, moments later Cristian Pecci grabbed a consolation which in the grand scheme of things gives Saints a chance, albeit low, of qualifying when they play at the Victoria Stadium next week.

The final game of the week saw Europa host Lithuanian side Kauno Zalgiris. Despite their visitors being 19 games into their league season, they came in on the back of four games without a win, and Europa dictated play for almost the entire game. However, they lacked the finishing touch on a number of occasions and in the end had to settle for a goalless draw.

It is also worth noting ahead of next week that the away goal rule was abolished for this season – so while Mons Calpe currently benefit from that rule, Lincoln and St Joseph’s goals away from home will not play a part if the scores end up tied after the second leg.

Next week’s fixtures:

Tuesday 18:00 – Lincoln v Fola Esch (Victoria Stadium)

Thursday 18:00 – Kauno Zalgiris v Europa (Suduva Stadium)

Thursday 18:30 – St Joseph’s v Levadia Tallinn (Victoria Stadium)

Thursday 18:30 – Santa Coloma v Mons Calpe (Estadi Nacional)

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Europa release a statement after Supreme Court Judgement

After this morning’s Supreme Court Judgement, Europa FC have released a statement to the press this afternoon.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Europa had applied for an injunction against the GFA to stop the Rock Cup Final going ahead, after they were removed from the competition for being alleged to have breached competition rules in their semi-final penalty win against Lincoln (who are set to play Glacis in the final tonight). This morning though, the Supreme Court rejected Europa’s application for said injunction. As such, Europa have sent a press release this afternoon, which is as follows:

Today’s Supreme Court ruling points to the fact that Europa FC should be playing in today’s Rock Cup Final. It also vindicates the Club’s arguments that it did not breach competition rules and criticises the Gibraltar Football Association for its failings.

We had to apply for an injunction against the GFA because they had unjustly accused us of breaching Rules and Regulations when we beat Lincoln fairly and squarely on penalties in the semi-final of the Rock Cup and the GFA and its Appeals Committee subsequently awarded the match to Lincoln Red Imps FC so that they could play in today’s Rock Cup Final.

The GFA did not follow their own Rules and Regulations when we appealed against this terrible decision and Europa feels strongly that it did not get a fair hearing. That is why we wanted to go to an independent arbitration that we had a right to go to under the Disciplinary Regulations. The delay by GFA has not allowed us to go to arbitration in time before the match is played tonight. That would have allowed the rightful Club, Europa FC to play Glacis United FC in the final and not Lincoln Red Imps FC, who lost the semi-final.

In court today:

  1. The Judge decided not to grant an injunction only because of its effect on an innocent party – Glacis United FC who had told the Court they would lose key players and could not play after today. He made it clear that if it had not been for this issue, he would have granted the injunction.
     
  2. The Judge also expressed the view that if we went to arbitration, we would be right in our argument that we have not breached the rules.
     
  3. He has also said that the delay was the GFA’s fault and this has frustrated our attempt to be in the final as we have not been able to get to finish the arbitration hearing in time because of the GFA’s deficient processes.
     
  4. Because of this, he has ordered the GFA to pay Europa FC’s legal costs of the Injunction Application.

We now call upon the Gibraltar Football Association to do the right thing and accept their own GFA Appeals Committee got it wrong and allow us to play the Rock Cup Final tonight. The arguments on which the Chief Justice at the Supreme Court of Gibraltar recognised we are likely to succeed in an arbitration have been the Club’s position all along. That would only be fair and we have written to the GFA President to ask him to ensure this given the Court’s ruling.

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Lopez: “We have to make sure that we get the job done in our game before thinking about anything else”

Ahead of the final weekend of the league season, FG caught up with Europa keeper Christian Lopez to talk about how he thinks his season has gone, the title race being out of Europa’s hands, and more.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Europa are currently second in the league, a point behind Lincoln going into the final weekend of the season – how does Lopez feel his sides season has been? “Personally I think that it has been a great season for the club in a way in which I think they’ve benefited more than most clubs. This season the club has seen many local youngsters come through to help the first team try and fulfil their objectives which both the players and club will benefit a lot from.

Obviously, given the league table, the title race is not in Europa’s hands, and regardless of their result they’ll need a favour from Lions if they were to win the title – but is it key that Europa’s players forget about that and just get their job done vs Mons Calpe today? “We never tend to think about any other team in the league, we try to just focus on ourselves. Saying that we all know how important our game against Mons Calpe is. We have to make sure that we get the job done in our game before thinking about anything else.

After joining last year from Manchester, Lopez made the step up to being Europa’s first choice keeper this season – how does the 20-year-old feel he’s adapted to this and performed in his first full season at the club? “I personally think I have adapted well in my first full season with Europa FC. I’m 100% positive that I wouldn’t have been able to adapt as well as I have without the help and encouragement from my teammates, coaching staff and from the board daily. It’s certainly given me a boost in confidence. I’ve loved every second of it.

Finally, we asked the keeper if he had a message for Europa’s fans ahead of the final game of the season? “I would just like to thank the fans for supporting us all season. For the final game I would just like to remind them that they are just as important as the players on the pitch. We all want the same thing. I know us players would love to see you all down at the stadium cheering us on.

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Saints beat Europa to stay in title race

St Joseph’s kept their hopes of a first league title since 1996 alive, as they beat Europa 2-0 last night at the Victoria Stadium.

Photo (C) David Roberts

After both teams suffered disappointing defeats on Saturday, Europa and St Joseph’s knew that defeat last night would make it very unlikely they would end the season lifting the Gibraltar National League shield. After a 3-1 loss to Lincoln, Europa made five changes, with Olmo, Alex Quillo, Mikey Yome, Dylan Borge and Juanlu all chosen to start by Rafael Escobar. Meanwhile, Saints manager Raul Procopio responded to the 4-1 defeat against Mons Calpe by also making five changes – Carlos Carrasco, Erin Barnett, Alain Pons, Juanma and Domingo Ferrer all were given the nod.

The opening half hour saw both teams have chances without threatening either goalkeeper – Fede Villar headed over from Kenneth Chipolina’s long throw, before Yome chested the ball and volleyed over for Europa at the other end. Barnett then came close to scoring, heading just wide from Nano’s cross, before Saints were awarded a penalty just after the half-time mark. After missing last weekend, this time it was Nano who was entrusted with the spot-kick, and he sent Christian Lopez the wrong way to open the scoring for Saints.

The second half saw Europa have a couple of half chances in the opening exchanges – they will have known a draw would have done them no favours, and that they needed to score twice in the second half to keep their title hopes somewhat healthy. They came closest to getting at least one back in the 78th minute, but Jamie Robba made an excellent save to deny Chico Diaz. That was as good as it got for Europa, and St Joseph’s sealed the win in injury time, when substitute Stefano Borghi wrapped up all three points to ensure his team were the ones to return to winning ways.

If Lincoln beat Lynx tonight, St Joseph’s will be 3 points behind the league leaders, who they face in the penultimate matchday of the season – if Saints beat Lincoln they would overtake them, courtesy of having a better head-to-head – providing they do not drop any further points on Saturday against Lions, who have already drawn with them this season. For Europa, even if they win all their games, they will now be looking for favours from Mons Calpe, Lynx and/or Lions if they were to go on and win the league, as the title race is most certainly out of their hands.

Lineups:

Europa: Lopez; Breed (Clinton, 73), Olmo (Rosa, 64), Juampe, Quillo (Diaz, 64), Yome (Gibson, 82), Sanchez, Badr, Carrascal (Gallardo, 82), Borge, Juanlu

Unused Subs: Romero, Alvarez

St Joseph’s: Robba; Chipolina, Carrasco (Pecci, 73), Nano, Barnett, Juanfri (Guirado, 82), Villar, Pons, Juanma, Ferrer (Borghi, 64), Mouelhi

Unused Subs: Mateo, Rojas, Garro, Moulds

Yellow Cards: Carrascal; Carrasco, Barnett, Ferrer, Mouelhi, Guirado

Red Cards: None

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Lincoln return to top of the table

Lincoln came from behind to beat Europa 3-1 yesterday, and return to the top of the Gibraltar National League in the process.

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

After drawing with Lions last time out, Lincoln saw Chino, Scott Wiseman, Carlos Martinez and Mustapha Yahaya return to the starting line-up, while Europa’s only change from their 2-0 victory vs Mons Calpe saw Leon Clinton come in for Mikey Yome, who dropped to the bench.

After having an early effort go wide, Adrian Gallardo would give Europa the lead inside the first 15 minutes – a long ball over the top of the Lincoln defence seemed to be destined for Juampe, who was clearly offside, but with the Europa captain not interfering with play, Gallardo was deemed to have just stayed onside, taking the ball and catching out the Lincoln defence, before finding the back of the net.

That goal seemed to wake up Lincoln, and soon after, Christian Lopez had to make a good save to deny Roy Chipolina from equalising at a set piece. Both teams would then have a goal ruled out for offside – both were very tight calls, with Kike and Gallardo perhaps unfortunate to each see the flag go up as they scored.

Soon after though, Lincoln would equalise – Kike, who had been starting to heavily influence the game, controlled the ball down well with his chest before drilling an effort into the bottom corner to bring his side back level – it would stay that way at half time.

The second half, in truth, saw Lincoln take control of the game, and Kike almost put Lincoln ahead, when his header hit the bar and bounced down before staying in play. Dylan Borge, who came off the bench for Europa, had one promising moment where he managed to get away from Roy Chipolina and advance towards goal, but Yahaya covered for his captain and put in a crucial tackle to ensure no shot on goal was taken.

The introduction of Graeme Torrilla on the hour mark, who partnered Yahaya in midfield, saw Lincoln dominate that crucial battle in the middle of the park, and it wasn’t long before they took the lead, as Carlos Martinez fired an effort into the corner and sparked wild celebrations on the Lincoln bench. Lincoln had chances to wrap up the game, but firstly Fernando Carralero saw his goal-bound effort brilliantly blocked by Mohamed Badr, before Lopez had to make a big save to keep his side in the game.

Lincoln would get their third with the final kick of the game though – Ethan Jolley was sent off after giving away a penalty, and Kike stepped up to confirm Lincoln’s spot on top of the league, courtesy of their superior head-to-head record over Europa. Both teams have four games left this season and both know they can’t afford to drop any more points from here.

Lineups:

Lincoln: Chino; Ronan (Torrilla, 60), Wiseman, Lopes, De Barr (Britto, 73), R. Chipolina, Toscano, Carralero, Martinez (Wall, 80), Yahaya, Kike

Unused Subs: Soler, Moreno, Sergeant, Cabrera

Europa: Lopez; Jolley, Breed (Yome, 72), Ayew (Diaz, 72), Juampe, Gallardo, Sanchez, Badr, Carrascal, Rosa (Alvarez, 63), Clinton (Borge, 53)

Unused Subs: Romero, Olmo, Quillo

Yellow Cards: Ronan, Wiseman, De Barr, Kike, Torrilla; Ayew, Gallardo, Rosa, Alvarez

Red Cards: Jolley

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Breed: “I have certainly learned a lot”

FG caught up with Jack Breed to talk about Europa’s win over Mons Calpe, life at his new club and more.

Breed reflected on Europa’s 2-0 win over Mons Calpe, “I feel we played a good game against a tough opponent. We defended well against them, had to be aware of their physical presence going forward and we dealt well with that well. We kept the ball fairly well against them and were more clinical than they were, we had a fair few chances as well to really kill the game off which we didn’t take but overall we played well.

Next up for Europa is their rivals Lincoln, a game which has high stakes for both teams – we asked Jack how the team is feeling ahead of Saturday’s match – “The mood is really good and positive, we know we are back to the top of the league and we have to keep the momentum going to make sure we stay there. We know it’s going to be a tough game but are confident in ourselves that we can get the result we are looking for.

Jack joined Europa from Fareham Town in January, who currently ply their trade in the ninth tier of English football – we asked the Gibraltar U21 international about life at his new club, “I have found it enjoyable and certainly learned a lot especially tactically. All the staff and players have been great at helping me settle in and it always helps to come to a team with such a winning mentality.

We asked Jack what he hopes to achieve this season, “We want to win everything we can. We will take each game as it comes, prepare well, train hard and make sure we finish at the top of the league come the last game of the season.”

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Europa maintain top spot in Mons victory

First half goals from Adrian Gallardo and Juampe ensured Europa kept top spot in a 2-0 victory over Mons Calpe last night.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Europa, who had played on Friday night vs Lions, made just the one change from that game – Ethan Jolley came in for Dylan Borge, while Mons, who hadn’t played last weekend as their match vs Lynx was moved forward, made a handful of changes from their 5-1 loss to Lincoln on the 17th – Ashley Rodriguez, Renan Bernardes and Elyakim Musoni came in for Kevagn Ronco, the suspended Andre Dos Santos, and Diego Caballero.

Europa got off to a very quick start, scoring inside the opening two minutes as Ibrahim Ayew’s cross was headed in by Adrian Gallardo, who after just 64 seconds found himself free in the box as Mons defence was caught out cold. Gallardo could have had a second after 10 minutes, but his shot was tipped over by Christian Fraiz in the Mons goal, before Christian Lopez was called into action for Europa to save Diego Diaz’ lobbed effort on goal. Mons had a goal disallowed on 19 minutes, with Musoni, who had scored, presumably being adjudged to have fouled Ethan Jolley just before firing into the corner.

That would be the closest Mons came to scoring in the first half, as Europa took heed of the warning and promptly pushed on to try and double their lead. Fraiz was kept busy, saving an effort from Juampe, while the Europa captain twice set up Sergio Sanchez from corners, only to see the Europa defender head wide. It would be Juampe, however, who doubled Europa’s lead, curling an effort in off the post from just outside the box to put his side in a better position going into the break,

The second half was a less eventful affair, with Europa perhaps mindful of their massive match vs Lincoln this weekend, using the opportunity to sub off players after the hour mark and give them a bit of a rest before Saturday’s potential title-decider. Musoni, who had earlier had a goal ruled offside, was still proving to be a potential outlet for his side, shooting just wide from outside the box. Deep into injury time, after Europa keeper Lopez had collided with Mark Ballester and Diaz at a free kick, and was down with a potential head injury, Sergio Sanchez had to head off the line to ensure his keeper kept a clean sheet – Europa were understandably angry at the failure to stop play when a player from both sides were down injured after a clash in the box, but luckily for all involved there appeared to be no serious injury, and the game was blown for full time soon after.

Europa’s win ensured they go into the big game on Saturday at 18:15 knowing they’ll be at least 1 point ahead of Lincoln, depending on their result vs Lions tonight, while Mons remain 4th and will be hoping St Joseph’s beat Lynx in the earlier of today’s games.

Lineups:

Europa: Lopez; Jolley, Breed (Olmo, 62), Ayew (Juanlu, 75), Juampe, Gallardo (Borge, 62), Yome (Clinton, 75), Sanchez, Badr, Carrascal, Rosa (Alvarez, 64)

Unused Subs: Romero, Gibson

Mons Calpe: Fraiz; E. Santos, Rodriguez, Bernardes (Moreno, 78), El Hmidi (N. El Andaloussi, 68), Musoni, N. Santos, Ojeda, Ballester, Diaz, Mallemaci

Unused Subs: Montano, Pinero, De Los Santos, Almeida, M. El Andaloussi

Yellow Cards: Ayew, Badr; E. Santos, Musoni, Diaz

Red Cards: None

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Europa battle to victory against Lions

Goals in either half from Dylan Borge and Ibrahim Ayew saw Europa take all three points in a 2-0 win vs a stubborn, resilient Lions side last night

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

Lions again started with seven Gibraltarians on the pitch, as Albert Ferri named an unchanged team from the one which lost 1-0 to St Joseph’s last time out, while after playing 120 minutes in the cup in midweek, Europa made six changes, bringing the likes of Mikey Yome, Adrian Gallardo and Dylan Borge back into the starting eleven.

Europa got off to a great start, going 1-0 up after five minutes, when Borge reacted quickest to a header which hit the post, putting the ball in from a yard out to give his side an early lead. Despite this early goal, Europa did not build on it in the first half, mainly due to the work of Lions keeper Borja Valades who was keeping goal well once again for his side.

Lions best chance of attacking Europa appeared to be on the counter in the first half, but the presence of Jack Breed in the heart of defence was proving to be enough for his side to snuff out any danger – the Gibraltar U21 international put in an assured performance when called upon during the game. A few more chances for Europa came and went, while Thomas Hastings hooked an effort over the bar for Lions, and the half time whistle blew with only one goal to show for the game.

Lions bought on Ivan Ruiz for Cecil Prescott at half time, and immediately it appeared to improve Ferri’s side, who in the second half came out of their shells and pushed for an equaliser. German Cortes, who was leading the line, was starting to get the service he’d been starved of so often, but unfortunately for Lions he was not able to use said service and fashion any great opportunities from them, apart from a chipped effort that went into the Europa goal long after the offside flag had gone up against him.

Europa responded to Lions advances by bringing on Blas Alvarez and Mitch Gibson, but Lions were not deterred – they are a team who deal comfortably with opposition who pass the ball a lot but are not overly direct in attack, and they were clearly waiting for their chance late on to try and grab a late equaliser. That moment did not come though, as just before stoppage time, Ayew’s shot slipped through Valades hands and went in the goal – a rare error from a keeper who otherwise had been keeping Lions in the game from the get go. Europa wrapped up the three points, despite the effects of 120 minutes in midweek and a hectic schedule making them look at times lethargic and below par, while Lions stay rooted in sixth.

Lineups:

Lions: Valades; Tovar, Bosio, Breakspear, Rumbo, Cintas (Dobinson, 77), Peacock, Buhagiar (Morales, 57), Cortes, Hastings, Prescott (Ruiz, 45)

Unused Subs: Victor, Danino, Grech, Gomez

Europa: Lopez; Breed, Ayew, Juampe, Gallardo (Diaz, 68), Yome (Clinton, 90), Jimenez, Badr, Carrascal (Olmo, 90), Rosa (Alvarez, 63), Borge (Gibson, 63)

Unused Subs: Romero, Olivero

Yellow Cards: Tovar, Breakspear, Cintas, Buhagiar, Dobinson

Red Cards: None

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Europa advance to Rock Cup Final after penalty victory

After Christian Lopez had made a key penalty save, Ibrahim Ayew’s spot-kick saw Europa make it to the Rock Cup Final, beating Lincoln 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw.

Photo (C) Rough & Ready

Lee Casciaro captained Lincoln on the night, with Roy Chipolina starting on the bench, while Lolo Soler was preferred over Chino in goal by Mick McElwee. For Europa, Liam Walker was again nowhere to be seen, with his future not looking likely to be at Europa – Blas Alvarez, Leon Clinton and Chico Diaz came in to replace Marco Rosa, Mikey Yome and Adrian Gallardo from the side which beat Lynx 3-0 last weekend.

The opening exchanges saw little in the way of clear-cut chances, with players from both sides picking up bookings – this would prove to be crucial near the end of the half. Juampe had a chance saved by Soler in the Lincoln goal, before Ethan Britto, one of the aforementioned players to earlier be booked, picked up a stupid second yellow card, obstructing Europa keeper Lopez as he was trying to kick the ball out of his hands, leaving the officials with no choice but to send Lincoln down to 10 men. Tjay De Barr replaced Fernando Carralero soon after to ensure Lincoln remained with at least 5 HGP’s on the pitch, and the score remained goalless going into the break.

With the importance of the match showing, the second half largely followed a similar pattern – more bookings were picked up, and chances were few and far between once again – Mustapha Yahaya shot wide from outside the box just after the hour mark. As we neared the end of the 90 minutes, Europa tried to make the extra man tell – Gallardo headed over from Ayew’s cross, while Juampe saw another effort saved by Soler, but nothing could separate the sides. Unlike earlier rounds, extra time was used instead of going straight to penalties.

Lincoln started the strong in the extra time, with Christian Lopez forced to make a superb double-save to keep the score 0-0. At the other end, Bernardo Lopes also had to excel, making a great tackle to stop Juampe advancing on goal. Lincoln, who had battled for so long with 10 men, were starting to show it, and substitute Dylan Borge could not take advantage of a great chance to make it 1-0 from Ayew’s cross. As it was, both keepers could not be beaten after 120 minutes, so into penalties we went.

Tjay De Barr stepped up first, but his panenka effort went over the bar to hand Europa a potential early advantage, which they took through Gallardo. Lopes in the Europa goal guessed the right way for Lincoln’s next two penalties, but was unable to deny Luke Wall and Scott Wiseman. Likewise, Lolo Soler could not save from Olmo and Juampe’s penalties, before the pivotal moment in the shootout. Now captain, Roy Chipolina stepped up but saw his spot-kick saved by the Europa keeper, meaning Ayew had the chance to win it – he did just that and sent his side to the Rock Cup final, where they face either Glacis or Manchester 62, who play tonight.

Lineups:

Lincoln: Soler; Ronan (Chipolina, 107), Wiseman, Lopes, Casciaro (Torrilla, 75), Toscano, Carralero (De Barr, 40), Sergeant, Yahaya, Kike (Wall, 84), Britto

Unused Subs: Goldwin, Omoregie, Moreno

Europa: Lopez; Jolley, Breed (Borge, 97), Olmo, Alvarez (Gallardo, 60), Juampe, Badr, Carrascal, Diaz (Polaco, 67), Juanlu (Ayew, 83), Clinton (Yome, 45)

Unused Subs: Romero, Rosa

Yellow Cards: Toscano, Sergeant, Britto, Wall; Alvarez, Badr, Carrascal, Clinton

Red Cards: Britto