A brace from Kike saw Europa FC win 2-0 in the Pepe Reyes Cup and gain early bragging rights over their domestic rivals Lincoln in the 2016/17 season curtain-raiser.
Photo Credit: C Correa Photography
Arguably the most eye-catching signing of the summer was Liam Walker moving from Lincoln to Europa after the successful Champions League campaign where he shone in not only Gibraltar, but also Tallinn and Glasgow.
Lincoln Red Imps retained the Pepe Reyes Cup yesterday evening beating Europa FC 3-2 in extra time with legend Lee Casciaro bagging the winner. With both teams fielding some new and old faces, one player that caught our eye was the return of striker George Cabrera after more than a year out with injury.
Our reporter at the game caught up with George after his celebrations as he gave us an insight on how it feels to be back playing football, “It feels great to be back after more than a year out with injury, this was my first game back since last years Pepe Reyes Cup against Manchester 62 which we won 1-0. Feels great to be back with the team and helping them out, I feel great now and all I need is a few more matches to get my match fitness back and be fully fit for the start of the season next week.”
After missing the whole of last season, we asked George if there was much difference from last years game to the game which took place last night, “Last year versus Manchester 62 was quite a tough game aswell, they were missing a few players but they played a great game and we only won 1-0 but this season it is obviously going to be much quicker and stronger with loads of teams investing heavily like Europa bringing in many Spanish players, experienced players with many playing in the top divisions in Spain. We know this season is going to be tough but that’s football but we need to get going and hopefully we’ll be the best team this season.”
With Gibraltar’s next Euro Qualifier just a few weeks away, we asked George if his goal for now is to get back into the Gibraltar squad, “Obviously, I still haven’t officially played a game for Gibraltar, I would love to get back playing, that is one of my aims for this season and i’ve been training really hard for it as I was injured for last season, it was tough at the beginning but now with this match and the ones coming up soon hopefully i’ll be able to get back in the squad and play a few minutes or whatever Jeff Wood thinks I deserve.”
Football Gibraltar would like to thank George for his time and wish him the best of luck for the future.
A late Lee Casciaro winner saw Lincoln won the Pepe Reyes Cup tonight after a 3-2 win after extra time against Europa FC.
The game finished 2-2 after 90 minutes, after goals from Joseph Chipolina, and Casciaro’s first of the evening, were cancelled out by a Joselinho brace.
The first half started with Lincoln on the attack with Lee Casciaro, Liam Walker and debutant Yeray Blasco combining well causing the Europa defenders a few problems. The Lincoln pressure looked to have paid off when Walker went down in the box but referee Yaro Borg was having none of it and pointed for a goal-kick.
As the game went on Europa started to get themselves more involved, some great skill from Martinez saw him skip past Joseph Chipolina and Ryan Casciaro and whip in a cross which was cleared by Nico Chietino. Raul Navas picked out Walker with a great long ball, Walker turned and sent George Cabrera through on goal but Europa keeper Javi Munoz just managed to beat him to the ball and cleared.
Lincoln broke the deadlock midway through the half, a corner from Walker was whipped in and met by the head of Chipolina who headed the ball past Munoz. Europa players showed their discontentment as they felt their keeper Munoz was fouled in the build-up but Borg didn’t change his decision.
Just before half-time Lincoln nearly made it 2-0, a cross from Walker was met by the head of Cabrera whose effort went just over the bar. Minutes after the referee blew for half-time with Lincoln leading 1-0.
The second half started with Europa on the attack, an odd mistake from Chipolina saw Javi Martinez run through on goal, his shot was excellently saved by Raul Navas. Europa soon got the goal their second half play had merited, as a cross found Joselinho who raised above his marker and headed it past Navas.
A few minutes after equalising Lincoln got themselves back in-front, a cross found Casciaro who excellently slotted his effort past Munoz. Lincoln continued to pressure and nearly made it 3-1, Walker’s spectacular acrobatics produced a great low save from Munoz.
Lincoln continued to dominate and produced some good chances between Chipolina, Casciaro & Yeray but none could find a way past Munoz in the Europa goal. With less than ten minutes remaining Europa got their equaliser. A cross was met at the back post by Joselinho who got his second of the game.
With the game locked at 2-2, Yaro blew for full-time and the game went to extra-time. The first half of extra time saw Europa in total control, Navas produced a great save to keep out a free-kick, this was followed by Antonio Trujillo’s curled effort bringing out another save from Navas. Just before half-time Casciaro saw his headed effort well saved by Munoz.
The second half of extra-time was a more even encounter, as both teams looked deadly on the attack, but neither could create any clear-cut chances. Midway through the half Europa failed to clear a cross, the ball fell to Casciaro whose quick turn and shot was just out of the reach of Munoz and the ball rolled in. With Europa looking for that equaliser, a counter-attack from Lincoln nearly made it 4-2 but Abayian’s effort went wide. The referee blew the whistle shortly after and Lincoln were crowned champions of the Pepe Reyes Cup.
Lincoln’s Ryan Casciaro is a doubt for tonight’s game, with questions being raised over the Gibraltar defender’s fitness after he failed to add to his 12 caps against Ireland and Poland earlier in the month.
For Europa, their most notable absentee is new signing Pedro Carrion. The 37-year-old striker signed from Spanish side Atletico Sanluqueno in the summer, after scoring 17 goals for his team as they finished fourth in the Tercera Division Group 10, but isn’t able to make his debut for Europa tonight.
Tonight’s traditional curtain-raiser sees last season’s top two come head-to-head as Europa FC take on Lincoln Red Imps at the Victoria Stadium.
The Red Imps, who won their 13th consecutive league title last season, will go into the match as favourites, but will be wary of a Europa side that have seen another overhaul of their playing squad since the Carrasco brothers took over the management of the team.
Both teams had European campaigns in July, with differing levels of success. While Europa were dumped out of the Europa League 9-0 on aggregate by Slovan Bratislava, Lincoln knocked out Andorran side Santa Coloma in the Champions League First Qualifying Round, before losing 3-0 on aggregate to a FC Midtjylland side who have since beaten the likes of Southampton and Legia Warsaw in the Europa League this season.
Last season, Lincoln won the Pepe Reyes Cup 1-0 against Manchester 62, and a repeat would no doubt suit manager Raul Procopio, as he looks to send a message that his team are still the one to beat in the Gibraltar Premier Division.
Lincoln 5 (JP Duarte, Bardon, Walker, Cristori x2) Europa FC 0 Premier Division, May 2nd 2015
Europa FC 0 Lincoln 1 (Walker) Rock Cup, March 15th 2015
Europa FC 2 (Toncheff, Tamayo) Lincoln 2 (L. Casciaro, Walker) Premier Division, January 19th 2015
Tomorrow [Saturday] sees the Pepe Reyes Cup get underway with holders and league champions Lincoln Red Imps take on a new look Europa FC. Europa come into this game the better prepared side, Lincoln have had a very busy summer, Champions League followed by a much needed holiday for the players which was followed by most of the Lincoln squad departing to link up with the national side, Procopio hasn’t had as much time as he would like seeing as Europa have trained five to six times a week, twice a day.
Ahead of tomorrow’s game, we caught up with both teams managers as they reflect on tomorrow’s big game. Lincoln manager Raul Procopio said, “Well, for a start I would like to begin the season with a win and secondly it’s the first title of the year. We are aware that overtime our rivals will become more experienced and it will be more challenging to achieve titles. Regardless of the result on Saturday I am positive that the game will be a vibrant clash between two strong sides.”
After just scraping into the Europa League, finishing just above Lynx FC, Europa made some massive changes, the sacking of their ex-manager Bruno Akrapovic, soonly followed by releasing nearly their full squad with only Jake Victor, Kelvin Morgan & Matt Cafer staying at the club. After their elimination in the Europa League at the hands of Slovan Bratislava, they brought in brother David & Dimas Carrasco which was followed by bringing more than fifteen players and their technical team.
Ahead of his first competitive game as manager, we caught up with David Carrasco as he gathered his thoughts about tomorrows game, “We have a good feeling about this first match. The pre-season has been fruitful and the players have an urge to compete. Lincoln is obviously the favourite but we will try to do things the right way and have a good match.”
Football Gibraltar would like to thank Raul Procopio & David Carrasco for their time and wish them both the best of luck tomorrow.