Europa claimed the first silverware of the season by beating Lincoln 4-2 on penalties in the Pepe Reyes Cup.
Photo (C) C Correa Photography
With the game ending 1-1 in 90 minutes, after Oli cancelled out Rubo’s header, Europa won on penalties after their former player Sykes Garro, as well as Diego Gamiz, both missed their efforts.
Both teams had players missing from their lineups, most notably Lolo Soler for Lincoln and Kike for Europa, while the new HGP rule saw Tjay De Barr make his Europa debut against his former side, with new signings Dayle Coleing and Aaron Payas unused subs for last season’s Rock Cup winners.
In truth, the game was not the best match that we’ve seen from either team in recent years, with a slow tempo in the August sunshine for most of the game. After last year’s edition of the match needed extra time, both teams will have been grateful of the lack of 30 minutes additional football, ahead of Thursday’s double-header than involves both teams.
Rubo’s looping header beat Jaylan Hankins in the Lincoln goal to give Europa the lead, before the 17-year old keeper made a great double save to keep the score 1-0. It proved to vital as minutes later Oli came in at the far post to equalise, which appeared to set up the second half nicely.
Instead, the relative lack of match fitness seemed to take its toll, and with Europa making no subs from their bench of four, and Lincoln only bringing on their last two subs in the latter stages of the game, the game rather dried out in the second half, leading to the penalty shootout.
After five successful penalties, Garro stepped up and put his effort over Javi Munoz’ bar. Ivan Moya then put his spot-kick away, and the contest was ended as Gamiz smashed the bar from 12 yards, allowing the Europa keeper, and captain, to lift the Pepe Reyes Cup for the first time since 2016.