The day was finally here, Boca’s only realistic chance at qualifying for a European competition, by winning or getting to the final of the Rock Cup, was about to get underway. Sporting were the first round opponents and both sides were gunning for the chance to face College in a glamorous money spinning tie. They were all sorts of rumours and suggestions about the possible line up, with conversations between the gaffer, players and fans at Brunos and text messages being discussed in all the weekend papers. The gaffer had finally revealed the starting XI to the Fan of the Year, reportedly even before the players knew and there were no reported media leaks till 15 minutes before kick off. The game itself was one dominated by Boca with the lads missing a fair few difficult and simple chances as well. Boca didn’t look in too much trouble throughout but could have easily lost the game as they just didn’t make their mark by scoring. The penalty shootout was a one-sided affair yet again with the lads putting away all 4 of their penalties (Man United take note!) and clinching the tie much to the delight of the fans.
The floodlights were lit, and a Baltic cold from the East struck the picturesque Victoria Stadium for the duration of the game. Berllaque kept to his word, and the line-up he revealed to the FOTY, was indeed the line-up that walked out onto the pitch. Phil, Eliy, Bear, Crofo, Nali, Sean, Sols, Bosh, Nyall, Seb, Hamza were the men picked in the new 3-5-2 formation, fans argued that this did also look like a 5-3-2 but whatever floats your boat. The game kicked off and Nali was right into the thick of things with his new found freedom on the right wing, he saw a fair bit of the ball in the early stages of the game. We were quickly on the attack and Hamza headed a good chance over the bar after some great work on the left by Nyall. 2 more attacks followed and if it wasn’t for the offside flag and Sean’s handball, Boca would have got the breakthrough. A Sporting player then went down clutching some part of his body much to B15l’s (who was in the stands with the away fans) annoyance and he proceeded to yell ”Tiene ma pelicula que el cine cite”. Much to the amusement of the crowd and our players. More Boca domination followed and Hamza twisted and turned his way through their defence to place a shot past the hapless keeper but the ball struck the frame of the goal with the rebound evading Seb who was aiming to follow up.
Boca’s control on the game rarely wavered and we continued the onslaught after a corner where Borge had 2 miscued shots in the area which were deflected and cleared away, Borge, as a result of those shots being closed down, was limping as well as Seb who took a knock earlier. A rare chance for Sporting then followed after a lapse in concentration by the defence allowed for their striker to have a shot at goal, Pippo was equal to it though and made a good save with the ball then cleared for a throw. Boca did have the ball in the net in this half although it was ruled for a foul on a defender, not too sure why it was given, but it was. It remained 0-0. Bear then had an effort from a long range free kick which flew over. The first concern in a mostly good game for Boca was Nyall being forced off due to injury, Sam was his replacement who went to right wing back and Nali taking Nyall’s position on the left, a challenger to Borge’s John O’Shea award perhaps? The half time whistle blew and with Boca dominating but the scoreline still 0-0, it was easy to see who was the happier team of the two. (It wasn’t us).
The teams reappeared for the 2nd half and we kicked off with Boca playing some very sloppy passes in the early stages, we didn’t get punished for them and before long, we were in control of the game again. Bosh played a beaut of a pass in behind the defence for Seb to latch onto but he shot wide with just the keeper to beat. Nali was continuing to terrorise the opposition and had a shot deflected away for a corner after some good link up play with Hamza. They followed up with a rare effort on goal, and with Phil beaten, the fans took a sharp intake of breath as the shot was hit but the ball thankfully sailed wide. They were beginning to get a slight foothold in the game and their best chance came after our poor marking left their striker free in the area, he headed over in an inexcusable miss and Boca let off the hook in what would have the biggest smash and grab goal since this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHxJThRSkHQ&feature=youtu.be Disaster averted anyhow and Boca continued on their merry way to try and get the opening goal. Karlos was then kitted off and came on to replace Sols who had run his heart out for the Boca cause. As soon as he was introduced, Sene had the chance to get the goal but managed to head a chance, created by Bear, over the bar from close range, it seemed harder to miss. Crofo was then in the action as a blatant offside was missed, their striker was one on one with Pippo but Crofo got back in time and managed to make a vital tackle out for a corner.
After this, the chances were coming thick and fast for Boca, Sam had a surging run down the right and cross for Seb who got under the ball and the ball sailed wide. What followed here would have been one of the most talked about moments in Boca history, mainly from the man himself. Hamza weaved his way through several challenges, crossed for Sene who miscued and the ball ricocheted out towards the left back region, Nali thundered a strike with his right foot and in a moment where it seemed that time stood still, the shot cannoned against the bar. The crowd were in disbelief that Nali could actually do that. As the game went on, the best chance of the match was recklessly wasted. Bear played a peach of a ball that bisected their central defenders, Seb ran through on goal but delayed taking his shot for ages, he managed to sneak a shot under pressure from 2 defenders and the keeper, and the ball deflected away for a corner. If Boca would have lost this tie, this effort would have been at the forefront of the blame. Boca’s 3rd sub was made and Rick came on for Bosh who played well in his role in his central midfield role! Soon after, Rick crossed into Sene who failed to hit the target with another header, another chance gone begging for Boca. That was the last action of the game as a frustrated Boca had to go to penalties despite having most of the control in the game.
So, a first for Boca, we had to endure the stresses of a penalty shootout for the first time in our history. Sene was up first and slotted it home, they scored their first pen too. Bear struck an effort and despite the keeper getting a hand on it, the ball thundered in. They missed. Rick stepped up and dispatched it coolly, they missed again. If Hamza scored this pen, Boca would have this tie wrapped up, and he did just that. The ball flew into the net and Boca were finally through!!! It took penalties for us to manage to get the win but it was finally done. The reward for this was a glamorous tie against College on Saturday 25th. A massive thank you again has to go to Mrs Gaffer who braved the cold and miserable weather to take some action photos from the touch line areas, we all look forward to the awesome as always pictures.
Man of the Match this week was sponsored by Heineken, and it was a close call between Nali and Bosh. It was reluctantly given to Nali whose all round efforts didn’t go unnoticed and he duly picked up the accolade. Our next game is Saturday 25th in a 18:00 kick off. Its a glamorous money spinning tie against a College team who, apparently have ‘lost their Gibraltarian roots’ (we were told this, its not an official Boca view). Any normal person would give us no hope but why can we not win!?! If you check out our twitter links, it is full of cup upsets in the past, who’s to say we cant do the same! I for one believe we can win, and I think that attitude has to filter out to everyone. We believe!!