An air of confusion swept from the players to the pocket of Gibraltar fans in Yerevan on Saturday night as, in place of the Gibraltar anthem, the first few notes of ‘God save the Queen’ seemed to be ringing out across the stadium. As it turns out, the anthem being played was that of Liechtenstein – one of several which share the same tune with the UK – but whatever the case, it was far from an ideal start.
The mix-up was soon forgotten though, with both Armenia and Gibraltar firing warning shots at either end of the pitch. Most of Gibraltar’s work was being done in defence though, with Roy Chipolina returning to take charge of the back line and keeper, Kyle Goldwin, once again at the centre of the action. An audacious half-pitch effort by Walker and a close-range attempt by Coombes served to keep the away side motivated, and every passing minute without conceding seemed to strengthen their resolve.
Heading into the break at 0-0 was already something of an achievement – all eyes had previously been on Tuesday’s home match against Liechtenstein as Gibraltar’s best chance at getting any points in their Nations League campaign – but 5 minutes into the second half, the game was turned on its head.
Charging into the box, Lee Casciaro was caught by a defender’s high boot and sent tumbling over. Penalty to Gibraltar. Joseph Chipolina stepped up and showed no hesitation as he sent the keeper the wrong way; 1-0 to Gibraltar.
The unthinkable was suddenly on the cards, but by no means guaranteed, and it required an heroic effort by every last man on the pitch to defend their narrow lead for over 40 minutes
Goldwin had perhaps the game of his life with a string of spectacular saves holding the Armenian front line at Bay, but all eleven players and substitutes played vital a vital role in seeing out the game in the end.
1-0 the final score, three historic points for Gibraltar as they pick up their first ever win in UEFA competition, and a huge boost ahead of Tuesday’s home match.