Albania's last-16 hopes still alive in debut tournament

Sun Jun 19, 2016 6:05pm EDT
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By Zoran Milosavljevic

LYON, France (Reuters) - A first-half header by striker Armando Sadiku gave Albania a 1-0 win over Romania at Euro 2016 on Sunday and kept alive their hopes 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 that they are in contention to finish as one of the best four third-placed teams who will progress to the last 16.

It also eliminated a toothless Romanian side who finished bottom on one point. A lack of cutting edge made them easy prey for the competition’s rank outsiders, who thrived in an intense atmosphere in Lyon’s new stadium.

"In the first two games we didn't collect any points when we deserved more but tonight we reaped the rewards of an excellent performance against a good team," Albania's Italian coach Gianni De Biasi told a news conference.

"We missed a few chances but I am happy because it's not easy to play a match in which only a win will do."

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. I am so proud to be a part of this team."

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.   Continued...

Football Soccer - Romania v Albania - EURO 2016 - Group A - Stade de Lyon, Lyon, France - 19/6/16 - Romania's Dragos Grigore and Albania's Bekim Balaj and Andi Lila in action. REUTERS/Max Rossi