Scenes After Gibraltar Records First-Ever UEFA Win Will Give You The Feels
Gibraltar, a British overseas territory located at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula right across the Mediterranean from Africa with a population smaller than most major soccer stadiums, has won a game of football. The Gibraltar national team defeated Armenia 1-0 in the UEFA Nations League on Saturday in Yerevan, Armenia, the team’s first win in a meaningful match after 22 straight losses since joining UEFA in 2013.
And you could see what it meant to the players and coaches from the territory of just over 30,000 people as soon as the referee blew his final whistle.
Armenia 0-1 Gibraltar
Gibraltar have picked up their first ever points in a competitive international - before today’s game in Armenia, their record was
A107 pic.twitter.com/E52UuSSj2s— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) October 13, 2018
The Gibraltar national team had played 22 matches in UEFA competition, losing all 22. It had scored five goals while conceding 107 for an abysmal goal difference of 102. While Gibraltar had beaten Malta and Lativa in friendlies earlier this year, it had never won in any qualifier or any other UEFA competition.
Gibraltar started League D Group 4 play with two straight 2-0 losses to the powerhouses that are Macedonia and Liechtenstein. On the road against Armenia, which features Arsenal attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the team pulled off a remarkable first victory.
Not that anyone expected the day to end well when the match started with this ignominious omen.
The Armenian FA has apologised to the Head of Delegation representing the Gibraltar FA in Yerevan for this oversight and an announcement has been made at the national stadium apologising for the error...2/2— Gibraltar FA (@GibraltarFA) October 13, 2018
The Gibraltar national team scored on a penalty kick in the 50th minute. Joseph Chipolina buried the spot kick and gave Gibraltar a rare lead to defend.
And Gibraltar needed to do some defending. Goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin made 10 saves to deny Armenia and hold on for the clean sheet.
When the final whistle rang out at Hanrapetakan Stadium, the Gibraltar national team finally had its first win, and the celebrations from the players and coaches after show you just what it meant to them.
This is why the UEFA Nations League has importance for lower-level countries. Gibraltar never would have had a chance to win a game if it constantly had to play the big boys like Belgium, which beat it 9-0 in a 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Look at Goldwin, brought to tears by the victory. Jayce Mascarenhas-Olivero and Andrew Hernandez embraced like lovers who haven’t seen each other in years. The rest of the players jumped up and down in unison like giddy school girls.
The only person who didn’t seem excited was head coach Julio César Ribas.
Otherwise, the scenes were magnificent, as if Gibraltar had just won the World Cup.
You also have to give props to the Armenian fans, who had to expect their team to come out with a win on Saturday. They stood and applauded the visiting players in a classy gesture.
Interestingly, as it stands, Gibraltar is the only British country to record a win in UEFA competition during this international break thus far.
Gotta love the beautiful game.