Gibraltar Under 21 (0-6) Serbia Under 21 (UEFA Under 21, Group 7, Victoria Stadium) Photos by John Bugeja
Gibraltar’s Under 21 had a steep fall back to earth following their recent win against Macedonia, when Serbia’s U21 physically and mentally outgunned them in what was Gibraltar’s first qualifier at the Victoria Stadium.
A 6-0 defeat at the hands of Serbia saw a near full west stand go silent throughout the 90 minutes. The 12th man, the crowd, had turned up for the match, but so had the rain and the Serbian powerhouse. A side whose players played across some of the top European professional clubs demonstrated their superiority from early on in the match. The 12th man had also forgotten its voice as few chants and cheers were heard among the close to 850 strong crowd that had turned up.
Near misses as early as the second minute of the match saw Gibraltar pinned back from the start of the match. A couple of advances into the Serbian half brought about some early chances for Gibraltar. However, Gibraltar were forced to tighten at the back. A curled low driven ball from outside the penalty area to the far post from Lukic Sasa soon saw Serbia notch their first goal in the 14th minute. Balban unable to reach the ball even though stretching full length as the ball screamed through the centre of his defence.
Just a few minutes later Jovic Luka added the second after Gibraltar had wasted a couple of free kick chances.
A fast paced Serbian offensive display saw Gibraltar go down to 3-0 when Gajic scored on the 41st. Some hapless defending on Gibraltar’s part saw the ball bounce off the post and with Gibraltar’s defence static on the rebound Milan had an easy goal. Balban unable to count on the support from his defence who seemed unable to respond to the fact the ball had not gone out and was still within the danger zone, in their own area.
Gibraltar seemed to fall apart in the second half as Serbia found space between Gibraltar’s defensive lines. Lutovac Alexksander finding the net in the 4th minute of the second half after being left unmarked.
Gibraltar seemed unable to contain Serbia as they notched their fifth goal once again Luka finding space to slot in the ball as keeper Banda found himself isolated and facing oncoming Serbia players.
The differences in international and professional experience between the two sides, were clearly on display as Gibraltar struggled to find any rhythm to their game. A silent crowd, which seemed unable to cheer its team added to the wounds being inflicted on Gibraltar’s pride in what was their first qualifier at home as they saw Serbia score their sixth in the 37th minute of the second half. UEFA officials registering the goal as an own goal by Ethan Britto, the last player to touch the ball.
A 6-0 score line underlined the differences between the top and bottom of Group 7. Gibraltar’s young under 21 had battled hard on the field to contain what was a relentless powerhouse Serbian offensive. However Gibraltar’s youngsters, many playing in regional or university teams, or Gibraltar’s football league could not complete at the same level as the fast paced Serbs, physically stronger and whose players were already playing top level football fulltime for some of the top clubs in Europe.