Football 1 year ago

Albania stay alive at Euro 2016

  • Albania stay alive at Euro 2016

    Albania's players celebrate their team's win after the Euro 2016 group A football match between Romania and Albania at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Lyon on June 19, 2016. Albania won the match 0-1. / AFP / PHILIPPE DESMAZES (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)

A first-half header by striker Armando Sadiku gave Albania a 1-0 win over Romania at Euro 2016, keeping their hopes alive of reaching the knockout stages of their first major tournament.

The result of a pulsating clash left the Albanians third in Group A on three points behind France and Switzerland, meaning they are in contention to finish as one of the best four third-placed teams who will progress to the last 16.

They also eliminated a toothless Romanian side who finished bottom on one point.

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A lack of cutting edge made them easy prey for the competition's outsiders, who thrived in an intense atmosphere in Lyon's new stadium.

Man of the match Arlind Ajeti said: "We will hope till the very end that these three points will be sufficient to see us through to the knockout stages.

"Either way, we made history first by reaching the European Championship and then by winning our first three points."

Romania made a bright start and their crisp passing kept the Albanians on the back foot in the opening 20 minutes but they were restricted to long-range efforts and a Bogdan Stancu volley which was saved by goalkeeper Etrit Berisha.

Roared on by their noisy fans, many of whom were wearing traditional cone-shaped white caps, the Albanians missed a superb chance in the 23rd minute when left wing Ermir Lenjani skied his close-range shot with the goal at his mercy.

Albania's first goal at a tournament came in the 43rd minute when Sadiku finished superbly into the far corner from a tight angle.

The second half produced the same pattern as Romania's sporadic attacks kept breaking down in the last third of the pitch while Albania looked dangerous every time they came forward purposefully.

Mergim Mavraj and Andi Lila came close for Albania in the dying minutes as the Romanians ran out of steam and ideas.

Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu said the current Albanian side were a different prospect from those he had known in the past.

"It's a painful loss but I can't blame the players for lack of commitment because they tried hard," he said.

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