Europa FC’s 3-0 victory against Lincoln Red Imps in the Gibtelecom Rock Cup Final saw the side complete an historic treble, and dethrone a Lincoln side who have dominated football in Gibraltar throughout the 21st century.
Scorer of two goals on the day, Sevilla-born striker Kike was the star of Europa’s season, scoring 30 goals in 27 league games, with the former Coria player enjoying a very successful first season. The team were also aided by Gibraltar international Liam Walker, formerly of teams such as Portsmouth in England, as well as San Roque, Linense and Los Barrios in Spain, while there was also very impressive performances from a number of Spanish players, such as Alex Quillo, Guillermo Roldan and Ivan Moya, who all helped the club win the league.
The club have a very strong Spanish contingent, bringing in a number of players largely from the Campo area as they looked to battle a Lincoln side who had most of Gibraltar’s best local players in their ranks. The decision proved successful both domestically and in Europe, where they reached the Second Qualifying Round of the Europa League, losing 1-0 home and away to AIK of Sweden.
The Pepe Reyes Cup, Gibraltar’s equivalent of the Spanish Super Cup, saw Europa face off against a Lincoln side who historically beat Celtic just two months beforehand. Kike scored twice on his debut for the club, and the Spanish striker’s performance was a sign that a shift in power was occurring on the Rock.
Europa would face off against Lincoln again a few games into the season with the Greens coming out 1-0 winners, Liam Walker would grab the winner against his former club. After ten games Europa sat top, picking up eight wins and one draw.
The partnership between Kike & Walker continued to shine as their goals kept up their unbeaten run until early January when Lincoln would get their revenge and run out comfortable 3-1 winners. Manager Juan Jose Gallardo & his players regrouped and picked up important back-to-back wins over Mons Calpe & St Joseph’s, two teams who would have a big say on how the title race would go.
Europa moved back on top at the beginning of March when Lincoln were held to a 2-2 draw by St Joseph’s and an injury time goal by Liam Walker saw off Lions 1-0. The week after Europa recorded a 13-1 win over Europa Point with Kike, Guillermo Roldan & Alex Quillo getting on the scoresheet.
A few weeks later Lincoln thrashed Europa 4-1 with many believing the Imps would retain their title but with only two games remaining the league took another twist when Mons Calpe held Lincoln to a draw leaving the pressure on Europa to win their final two games.
A 7-0 win over Gibraltar United followed by 2-0 victory over Glacis United on the final day meant Europa would lift the Premier Division shield, the first time a team other than Lincoln would win the league since 2001/02.