Tribal Football

Italy defeat Albania in Euros opener

Italy defeat Albania in Euros opener
Italy defeat Albania
Italy defeat AlbaniaTribalfootball
Luciano Spalletti’s Italy extended their impressive streak of going unbeaten in opening matches at the UEFA European Championship to nine games, as the defending champions beat Albania 2-1 in Dortmund.

Given it was Italy’s first tournament in 18 years without one of Giorgio Chiellini or Leonardo Bonucci in the squad, keeping it tight at the back was always going to be a challenge for the Azzurri.

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But few would’ve imagined, even in their absence, that Albania would lead in Dortmund after just 23 seconds.

Capitalising on a mixup between Federico Dimarco and Alessandro Bastoni at the back, Nedim Bajrami seized on a loose ball in the Italian penalty area and rifled home at the near post, scoring the quickest goal in the history of the Euros.

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Any shock was soon out of the Italian systems however, as the equaliser arrived just 10 minutes later.

Alessandro Bastoni ghosted into the six-yard box unopposed, heading past a helpless Thomas Strakosha in the Albanian goal. 

One quickly became two, this time Nicolo Barella getting his name on the scoresheet with a stunning half-volley from 20 yards out.

Having taken a slender advantage into the break, it was perhaps surprising to see Italy take their foot off the gas in the early part of  the second half.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo threatened to add a third with a back-post header, but the Napoli man’s goalbound effort was diverted away by a smart piece of defending from Elseid Hysaj.

Sylvinho turned to his bench to try and inspire an unlikely Albanian comeback, and it almost paid dividends when Rey Manaj found himself bearing down on goal, but his dinked effort was brilliantly denied by the onrushing Gianluigi Donnarumma.

While far from a totally convicning performance, it marks the ideal start for Italy ahead of their Group B crunch match against early table-toppers Spain on Thursday. Whereas Albania, despite their quick start, will have work to do when they take on Croatia in four days time.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan)

Check out the match stats here.

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