Romania 0-1 Albania: Sadiku the hero as Eagles celebrate first win

After competing at their first every major competition, Albania have won the plaudits of many fans as they pushed both France and Italy to their maximum, before recording their first win against Albania.

Romania 0-1 Albania: Sadiku the hero as Eagles celebrate first win
Delight for Albania who scored their first goal at a major competition | Photo: AFP
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Romania: Tataruşanu, Sapunaru, Grigore, Chiriches, Matel, Hoban, Prepelita (Sanmartean, 46), Popa (Andone, 68), Stanciu, Stancu, Alibec (Torje, 57).
Albania: Berisha; Hysaj, Ajeti, Mavraj, Agolli; Basha (Cana, 83), Abrashi, Memushaj, Lila, Lenjani (Roshi, 77); Sadiku (Balaj, 59).
SCORE: 0-1, min 43, Sadiku.
REFEREE: Pavel Kralovec (Czech Republic). Booked: Basha (6), Matel (53), Sapunaru (85), Memushaj (85).

Armando Sadiku sent the Albania supporters into a frenzy as the only goal of the game sealed the Eagles' first win in a major competition.

After years of civil war, it was a night to remember for the travelling Albanian's who witnessed Sadiku heading in the only goal of the game prior to the break.

Nevermind a first win, the Vaduz forward scored Albania's first goal at a major tournament, after qualifying ahead of Denmark and Serbia.

Euro 2016 a spectacle for 'lesser' nations

Neither team claimed a victory in their opening two games of Euro 2016. Romania almost held France to a 1-1 draw until a later Dimitri Payet goal sent the French into a frenzy – whilst Anghel Iordanescu’s side were denied with a goal from Admir Mehmedi against Switzerland.

Albania suffered a 1-0 defeat against the Swiss, which came with a good performance to match, before almost holding France to a late draw, only to be done by late goals from Antoine Griezmann and Payet in added time.

This meant that both teams were in dire need of a win should they wish to join Italy and Spain in the second round.

Early domination from the Romanians

Alexandru Matel did extremely well down the left-flank - in the opening minutes - finding danger man Nicolae Stanciu, but Romania’s number 10 was unable to test Etrit Berisha.

The Lazio goalkeeper them fumbled an effort from Adrian Popa, but luckily Mergim Mavraj was there to clear Albania’s area as Iordanescu’s side went pressing,

De Biasi’s Albania were then lucky to have 11 men on the pitch after Migjen Basha was just shown a yellow card for a high foot on Ovidiu Hoban, whilst Bogdan Stancu was the next to test Berisha – this time with a thunderous volley from outside the area.

Denis Alibec – who started ahead of Florin Andone – then tried to curl his strike beyond the reach of Berisha, but sent his effort narrowly wide as Iordanescu’s side dominated the early stages.

Something changed, but what?

Albania then missed a golden chance to take the lead midway through the first-half when Ermir Lenjani had an open goal at his mercy, but somehow managed to send his effort over the crossbar from five-yards.

Romania then looked a fraction of their earlier self as Albania dominated possession.

An Albania supporter looks on during the EURO 2016 | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
An Albania supporter looks on during the EURO 2016 | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Ledian Memushaj had the first chance of two in a matter of minutes. The Pescara player cut open the Romania defence with a forward run, but instead of having better options around him, Memushaj went from goal from a tight angle, forcing Ciprian Tatarusanu into a save.

The resulting corner was then played short to Basha, who unleashed a ferocious effort towards Tatarusanu as the Romanian’s were almost caught out.

Persistence then paid off for Albania as Sadiku rose above his marker at the back post to latch on to Memushaj’s cross, which caught Tatarusanu out, meaning the Lugano forward had the easy task of heading the ball into the back of the net heading into the break.

Sadiku heads Albania into the lead | Photo: AFP
Sadiku heads Albania into the lead | Photo: AFP

Albania started the second-half like they ended the first. Memushaj almost recorded his second assist of the match after unselfishly sending the ball to Sadiku – however the striker was unable to bring the ball under control, allowing Vlad Chiriches to clear.

Memushaj was in the heart of the action once again after he attempts a strike from the edge of the area, which left Tatarusanu scrambling – luckily, the Fiorentina goalkeeper manages to pounce on the loose ball.

Despite using all three changes with 20 minutes left to play, Romania looked a fraction of the side that played against both France and Switzerland.

Substitute Andone had the chance to level scores for Romania with 15 minutes left to play, but the Cordoba player fired his effort off the crossbar.

A tense ending

Albania fans urged their side on as they were minutes away from their first ever win in the first appearance at a major competition.

Plaudits to De Biasi who, despite setting up to defend, still allowed his team to attack when the moment presented itself. 

Pavel Kralovec then blew for the final whistle which meant that Albania finish Group A in third, but they'll have to see if they are one of four 'best' third placed teams at Euro 2016 to see their fate.