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Haaland hat-trick helps Norway to victory

A smart finish from Reece Styche was unfortunately not enough to prevent an Erling Haaland-inspired Norway side from running out 5-1 winners in Oslo last night against Gibraltar.

Photo © Rough & Ready

Among the changes from Saturday’s defeat against Turkey were Kyle Goldwin coming in for Dayle Coleing, who was a surprising absentee from the 22-man matchday squad, while Styche came in for the suspended Tjay De Barr up top. There was also a start for Ethan Jolley, while Louie Annesley returned from suspension as well.

Norway went into this game level on points with the Netherlands, but with an eight goal worse goal difference, and from the first minute you could see they were trying to correct that. However, as well as Gibraltar’s defence, Stale Solbakken’s side had another issue in the end – Netherlands ran out comprehensive 6-1 winners against Turkey in a top of the table clash in Amsterdam.

Norway would, after just over 20 minutes of trying to break down Gib, then go and score three goals in 16 minutes. Like in March, Kristian Thorstvedt opened the scoring, before Haaland, who drew a blank in the Victoria Stadium in the two teams last meeting, grabbed a brace to seemingly put Norway on the road to a cricket score.

Gibraltar soon had other ideas though – Gibraltar’s pressing game led to Julian Valarino latching onto a loose Norwegian pass; Graeme Torrilla then won a 50-50 on the edge of the box which set up Styche, who showed great composure to dink the ball over Bournemouth keeper Orjan Nyland to reduce the deficit. VAR would come to the rescue before the break, overturning a Norway penalty, and the teams went in 3-1 at the half time whistle.

Alexander Sorloth had numerous chances throughout the game, but eventually got his goal to make it 4-1 on the 58th minute, and Norway would have hoped Gib would crumble. That would not be the case though, and it would take until the final moments of the game for Dortmund’s Haaland to get his hat-trick and add a 5th for Norway, who go second in the group but slipped slightly further away from the Netherlands, who Gib travel to face in Rotterdam in October.

The result officially ended any Gibraltar hopes of reaching the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and with Julio Ribas’ project aimed around that tournament (his contract is believed to end at the end of 2021 though), it will be interesting to see if either Ribas, or the GFA see this as an opportunity for a fresh start after November. For now though, there are four more qualifying games, including two home matches against Montenegro and Latvia where, if some of the defensive shackles are loosened, Gib could give the fans something to cheer with a positive result or performance. With Styche scoring his second in as many starts, and De Barr also showing promising form on the international stage, will those games be the time for the pair to finally start up top together?

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Gibraltar to get September triple-header underway away at Latvia

Gibraltar get their latest international triple-header underway tomorrow when they take on Latvia at the Daugava Stadium in Riga.

Photo © Rough & Ready

Julio Ribas’ side travelled to Latvia on the weekend, with Wednesday’s match the first of a tough triple-header that also includes a home tie against Turkey on Saturday, followed by a trip to Norway the following Tuesday. Notable absentees from the squad for tomorrow were Liam Walker and Lee Casciaro, both of whom featured on Thursday in Lincoln’s win over Riga FC, but the pair may join the squad later in this international break, with their game time potentially being managed carefully after a long summer at club level.

One player that joined the team though was Tjay De Barr, with the Wycombe attacker, who came off the bench in their league defeat to Sunderland on Saturday afternoon, making the trip to Latvia separate from the rest of the team, to ensure he could keep his club commitments. There was also a first ever call up for Lions’ youngster Richard Felipes, while Jayce Olivero returns to the squad after injury, and Joseph Chipolina makes the squad for the first time since a long-term injury he picked up in December 2019.

With a 27-man squad being taken to Riga, and only 23 being able to be named in the matchday squad, Ribas has given himself flexibility in who he chooses for his squad, including in the goalkeeping department, where Bradley Banda, Dayle Coleing, Kyle Goldwin and Jamie Robba will have to compete for the three available goalkeeping spots, as well as the starting position in goal.

For the hosts, Latvia manager Dainis Kazakevics has also named a 27-man squad for their three internationals this month, including five players from the Riga squad who took on Lincoln in the UEFA Europa Confererence League Playoffs this month. The majority of their squad are based in Latvia, but defender Raivis Jurkovskis did join Irish side Dundalk in January of this year, while striker Vladislavs Gutkovskis grabbed 12 goals in 35 games for Polish side Rakow and also scored the winner in their Conference League 3rd qualifying tie against Rubin Kazan.

Like Gib, Latvia were in League D of the Nations League last time out, but they finished third behind the Faroe Islands and Malta, picking up one win, four draws and a defeat in the process. They have, however, picked up an impressive 3-3 draw away at Turkey in this qualifying group, and therefore sit one point and one position above Gibraltar in the qualifying group.

One thing to note about this game is potential suspensions, with Gibraltar having eight players just one yellow away from missing Saturday’s tie with Turkey – they are Louie Annesley, Erin Barnett, Tjay De Barr, Kyle Goldwin, Aymen Mouelhi, Alain Pons, Kian Ronan and Reece Styche.

Betting*:

The hosts come into this one as odds on favourites, with the best price you can get on Latvia currently 2/7 at the time of writing. The last time the two sides met, Gib won 1-0 in a friendly at the Victoria Stadium, and a repeat of that scoreline is best price 33/1. Gibraltar to win the match outright is a best price of 15/1, while Both Teams To Score is 39/20.

In the goalscorer market, the aforementioned Gutkovskis is 13/10 to score in 90 minutes for the hosts, while for Gib, Reece Styche, who scored vs Montenegro and may be on penalty duty if Joseph Chipolina doesn’t start, is 5/1 anytime scorer. Tjay De Barr is 11/2 to repeat his goalscoring heroics from Wycombe’s EFL Cup game vs Stevenage last week, while if you’re looking for an aerial threat who has shown he can score big goals, Roy Chipolina is a tempting 50/1 to add to his two goals at international level.

* All prices correct as of 12:13 CEST 31st August 2021, and prices may fluctuate. Please gamble responsibly. 18+ www.begambleaware.org

Match Officials:

The appointed match officials for the game are from Czechia, with referee Pavel Orel a 32-year-old who has officiated in the Europa Conference League this season – he took charge of Lincoln Red Imps’s 1-1 draw with AEK Larnaca in Faro in the 2017/18 Europa League Qualifying, while he even was appointed referee for three matches in the Chinese Super League back in November 2018.

Predicted Lineups:

Latvia – Steinbors; Fjodorovs, Cernomordijs, Oss, Jurkovskis; Tobers, Emsis; Jaunzems, Ikaunieks, Ciganiks; Gutkovskis

Gibraltar – Coleing; Sergeant, Wiseman, R. Chipolina, Olivero; Annesley; Valarino, Torrilla, Ronan, Pons; De Barr