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

Romania's forward Florin Andone (left) vies for the ball with Albania's defender Arlind Ajeti during the Euro 2016  football match between Romania and Albania.
Romania's forward Florin Andone (left) vies for the ball with Albania's defender Arlind Ajeti during the Euro 2016 football match between Romania and Albania. PHOTO: AFP

Albania's first goal at a major tournament also delivered a memorable maiden victory at the European Championship for the minnows.

Giovanni De Biasi deployed a 4-5-1 formation and while the world No. 42 - the lowest ranked side in the 24-team tournament - ceded the early possession to Romania, the Albanians slowly grew into the game

Midfielder Ledian Memushaj was at the heart of Albania's best moves and he started the move in the 43rd minute that saw the ball played out wide to Andi Lila whose deep cross to the back post was nodded in by striker Armando Sadiku to stun Romania.

The Romanians, who were unbeaten in 13 games against Albania, were unable to respond. In fact, the best chances in the second half fell to Albania who could have doubled their lead with a little more composure.

The closest Romanian came to an equaliser was in the 76th minute when substitute Florin Andone's fiercely-struck shot slams against the crossbar.

 
 

Ultimately, the Albanians, who are making their Euros debut, got their fairytale ending and the three points earned see them finish above bottom-placed Romania in Group A. They could yet progress to the next round depending on results in the other groups.

What an achievement that would be for the plucky underdogs.

Match highlights

- An offside call spares Albania winger Ermir Lenjani's blushes as he skies the ball from just six yards out following a swift counter-attack in the 23rd min.

- Good work from Memushaj in the 35th min on the right creates space for himself. He tries to beat Tatarusanu from a tight angle and wins a corner. Should have cut it back to a team-mate who were better placed.

- Albania get their first goal at a major tournament thanks to a deft header from the dangerous Sadiku. A deep cross by Lila to the back post is misjudged by Ciprian Tatarusanu just minutes before the half-time break and the Albanian striker heads it back across him. Cue wild celebrations in the stands and Albanian bench.

- Memushaj intercepts a stray pass in the 50th min and suddenly it's two-on-two. But Sadiku cannot take his pass into his stride and the chance goes begging.

- Snap-shot by Memushaj in the 63rd min. Tatarusanu, who has looked uncomfortable all night, beats it away but it could easily have fallen to an Albanian player who gambled and followed up.

- Romanian sub Lucian Sanmarteana takes a free-kick 25m from goal in the 67th min but can only hammer it into the Albanian wall.

- Best chance of the game for Romania to equalise comes in the 76th min. Substitute Florin Andone is free on the right and hits a fierce shot that cannons off the crossbar.

The talking point

The overall quality of the game was poor, with both teams struggling to string together a respectable sequence of passes while creativity in attack was also lacking. It lent weight to the argument against expanding the tournament from 16 nations to its current 24, seemingly placing a premium on quantity over quality. But one look at the faces of the Albanian bench as they celebrated wildly with Sadiku, whose face was one of unbridled joy, and all rational thought goes out. Yes, some games will be poorer but for moments such as these, it's a small price to pay.

Man of the Match

Sadiku was a threat all night, with his clever movement and physical play. The No. 10 took his goal really well, tracking the flight of the ball and not allowing the lumbering figure of Tatarusanu to distract him as he angled his header to the bottom corner. The 25-year-old may have lasted only 60 min before hobbling off but by then he had already delivered the game's decisive moment.

What the result means

Albania finish with three points and are third in Group A, behind France and Switzerland. They now face an anxious wait until Wednesday evening when all the group matches are finished to see if they are one of the four best third-placed teams to earn a spot in the round-of-16. Hopefully they've pre-booked their hotel stay.

Key statistic

The last time Albania beat Romania was in Bucharest back in May, 1948. Coincidentally, the score then was also 1-0.

What they said

De Biasi: "We will have to prepare as if we'll be playing on Friday or Saturday. We'll watch the other games and get ready. If we stay, we can cause trouble to other teams – even big teams. I think we grew in confidence tonight."

Sadiku: "We already achieved our goal, and for that we are very happy. I am very satisfied to score but the credit goes to the whole team. I can’t describe (the moment I scored). It was a very emotional moment. A very happy moment to see all the Albanians, to make them happy and see them rejoicing."