Euro 2016 round up: Albania 0 Switzerland 1 - and what the result means

Switzerland's Breel Embolo (centre) in action against Albanian players Amir Abrashi (left) and Mergim Mavraj (right) during the Uefa Euro 2016 match between Albania and Switzerland.
Switzerland's Breel Embolo (centre) in action against Albanian players Amir Abrashi (left) and Mergim Mavraj (right) during the Uefa Euro 2016 match between Albania and Switzerland.PHOTO: EPA

Sibling rivalry gone international! Yes, the European Championship has witnessed another historic moment, and future pub quiz question, when two brothers faced each other for opposing countries in the Euros for the very first time.

The Xhaka brothers took centrestage in Lens' Stade Bollaert-Delelis with midfielder Granit in Switzerland's white while defender Taulant was in Albania's red.

While the Swiss boasted better pedigree, with a number of players employed by top European clubs, it is the gutsy Albanians, playing in their first match in a major football tournament, who impressed with their attitude and never gave up even when captain Lorik Cana was sent-off in the first-half.

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

- The Swiss take an early lead after just five minutes when Hoffenheim centre-back Fabian Schar beat goalkeeper Etrit Berisha to a Xherdan Shaqiri corner and glanced the ball home.

- Midway through the first half, Elseid Hysaj's superb throughball found Armando Sadiku in the box but Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer blocked superbly.

- Seven minutes before the break, Cana was shown a second yellow card for handling the ball just outside the box to prevent Haris Seferovic to burst through on goal. From the free-kick, Blerim Dzemaili blasted against the post.

- Sadiku had the Albanian fans celebrating initially with a stinging shot in the 76th minute but that turned to sighs when the ball was found to have hit the side netting.

- Striker Shkelzen Gashi broke the offside trap in the dying minutes but the outstanding Sommer palmed the shot over the bar.

THE TALKING POINT

It was a competitive match with lots of bruising challenges but ultimately, the Albanians and the Swiss played the game in the right spirit. But some Albanian fans booed the five Swiss players in the starting XI that have Albanian roots, with Shaqiri and Valon Behrami, getting most of the jeers. As both sets of players exchanged brotherly handshakes and swopped jerseys after the final whistle, cameras zoomed in on the two men who embodied this game and whose lives are intertwined - The brothers Xhaka.

MAN OF THE MATCH

As fate would have it, not only did blood relations made Granit a pre-match talking point, his contribution on the pitch was the most significant as well. In the first-half alone, the deep-lying midfielder had 60 touches of the ball, more than any other Swiss player. He also created three scoring chances. The 23-year-old had just signed for Arsenal. A certain Monsieur Wenger will be delighted with new player, especially after how the dynamic midfielder imposed himself with his physical presence but he could pass the ball like Andrea Pirlo or Xavi.

WHAT THE RESULT MEANS

The Swiss start their Euro2016 campaign with three points, the same as France, who lead on goal difference. Boosted by this win, Granit and Co. will want to ensure qualification by beating Romania on Thursday while Albania will have a mountain to climb when they meet France in Marseille's intimidating Stade Velodrome.

KEY STATISTIC

The 1-0 win over Albania is Switzerland's first victory in their opening match at the European Championship. And in seven meetings, Albania's record against the Swiss stands at six defeats and one draw.