Armando Sadiku wrote his name into Albanian folklore after his first-half header secured a 1-0 win over Romania in their Euro 2016 clash at Parc Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday night.
- Romania 0 Albania 1
- Stanciu twice tests Berisha early on
- Tatarusanu error gifts Sadiku opener
- Andone hits woodwork in second half
- Mavraj goes close to extending lead
The Eagles were appearing at the European Championship for the first time in their history and they put in spirited performances against Switzerland and France, cruelly losing 2-0 to the hosts thanks to two stoppage-time goals.
They held their own against Anghel Iordanescu’s side in Lyon and took the lead on 43 minutes when Sadiku capitalised on a goalkeeping error to head home, sending the Albanian fans into raptures.
Gianni De Biasi’s men survived a scare in the second half when Florin Andone struck the woodwork with a ferocious shot, but that was the closest Tricolorii came and Albania celebrated a historic victory.
Romania made the better start and threatened twice through Nicolae Stanciu in the opening stages, with the striker forcing a routine save out of Etrit Berisha from outside the area on five minutes before he sent a volley into the keeper’s arms from 18 yards out three minutes later.
But Albania were holding firm at the back and they began to get a foothold in the game, creating their first chance on 20 minutes when Migjen Basha tested Ciprian Tatarusanu with a strike from outside the area.
The tournament debutants went even closer on 35 minutes as Ledian Memushaj broke into the area from the right and fired off a shot from an acute angle that Tatarusanu parried away to safety.
It was a mistake from Tatarusanu that led to the opening goal two minutes before half-time as a deep cross out on the right from Memushaj drew the keeper off his line, but he misjudged the flight and Sadiku headed the ball over him into the far corner of the net from the edge of the six-yard box.
Tricolorii looked for a quick response before the break and Denis Alibec hit a weak first-time shot straight at Berisha from just outside the area after Andrei Prepelita tried to break into the area but was halted.
The Eagles sat back in the second half as they looked to defend their slender lead, allowing Romania to dictate play although they struggled to create any real chances, with Stanciu in particular shooting wayward on numerous occasions.
A flowing move on the right almost led to a Romanian equaliser on 76 minutes when Stanciu released Andone through on goal, but his rising shot slammed against the crossbar and went out of play.
Albania fans thought their team had scored a second goal four minutes from time as Mergim Mavraj connected with Memushaj’s corner on the half-volley at the near post, but he only managed to find the side-netting.