Albania 0-1 Switzerland
A Fabian Schar header in the fifth minute was the only goal that separated Switzerland and Albania this afternoon as the two sides faced off in Lens. It was an emotional match for the nation of Albania as today was the country’s first appearance at the European championship. There was emotion on the field two with the Xhaka brothers making history becoming the first brothers to face each other on opposing sides in the competition – Granit playing for Switzerland while Taulant lined out for Albania.
The favourites coming into the game Switzerland got off to a blistering start from the get go. A fifth minute corner allowed Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri to whip cross. Center-back Schar rose above the rest to head into an open net – Albania’s goalkeeper Etrit Berisha had raced out to clear the danger but missed the ball totally.
Albania didn’t back down despite this early blow. They continued to press forward and striker Armado Sadiku forced Swiss shot-stopper Yann Sommer into action, producing a fine save. Albania were heavy in their tackles this afternoon and captain Lorik Cana was sent off with ten minutes left in the first half. His first yellow card was for a late challenge and his second was in all honesty quite foolish as he deliberately handled the ball to stall a Swiss attack. Albania showed great resolve to head into the break trailing by just one.
Into the second half Albania continued to threaten, and with three minutes remaining had a chance to grab a heroic point. Shkelzen Gashi, on for the misfiring Sadiku, was put clean through, with just Yann Sommer to beat. Sommer saved. It was a fitting emblem for a match ultimately defined more by errors than brilliance, but which was none the less entertaining for that. Switzerland had their chances too in the second 45 minutes but the spirit of Albania denied the Swiss from extending their lead.
Switzerland join France at the top of Group A with 3 points while Romania have company at the bottom of the table with Albania.
Man of the Match – Granit Xhaka (Switzerland)
- Ergys Kace replaces Taulant Xhaka 62 mins
- Sokol Cikakkeshi replaces Odise Roshi 74 mins
- Shkelzen Gashi replaces Armado Sadiku
- Breel Embolo replaces Admir Mehmedi 62 mins
- Fabian Frei replaces Blerim Dzemaili 76 mins
- Gelson Fernandez replaces Xherdan Shaquiri 88 mins
Albania – Lorik Cana, Ergys Kace, Burim Kukeli, Mergim Mavraj.
Switzerland – Fabian Schar, Valon Behrami