Albania 0-1 Switzerland: Early Schar goal edges out ten-man Albania

Albania 0-1 Switzerland: Early Schar goal edges out ten-man Albania
Image: VAVEL UK
Albania
0 1
Switzerland
Albania: Berisha; Hysaj, Cana, Mavraj, Agolli; Kukeli, Xhaka (Kace min. 62), Roshi, Abrashi, Lenjani; Sadiku (Gashi, min. 87).
Switzerland: Sommer; Lichsteiner, Schar, Djourou, Rodriguez; Behrami, Xhaka (min. 86), Dzemaili; Shaqiri, Seferovic, Mehmedi (Embolo, min. 62).
SCORE: 0-1, min. 5, Schar.
REFEREE: Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP) Booked: Schar (min. 15), Cana (min. 21), Kace (min. 64), Behrami (min. 67), Mavraj (min. 90+1) Sent-off: Cana (min. 37)
INCIDENTS: European Championship group stage fixture between Albania and Switzerland. in Rennes. Albania's Lorik Cana sent-off in the first-half following a second yellow card.

Unfortunately, that's all we have time for here. Stay tuned for post-match reaction, including a match report from Jonathan Walsh. Player ratings will also follow later today. Stay tuned on the site for further coverage of Wales' game with Slovakia, where Harry Robinson will have you LIVE coverage, and later tonight - the big one - England v Russia. Noel Alberto will have your live for that one. Thank you very much for staying with me through this game, as Switzerland get off to a great start at the expense of Albania. I've been Sam Smith, and I hope to be back soon with more coverage throughout the rest of the tournament. 

Switzerland also had chances to seal the victory, but found Berisha in superb form in the Albania goal. 

Fabian Schar's early goal was enough for Petkovic's side, although Albania probably deserved a point - despite being a man down following Lorik Cana's first-half red card. Albania striker Sadiku missed three huge opportunities, but Sommer was equal to each in the Switzerland goal. 

90+3: FULL-TIME! Switzerland edge past ten-man Albania, winning their opening European Championships game for the first time. 

90+1' Embolo flattened by Mavraj who received a yellow card. 

90' Three minutes added on. 

Final few minutes now, Albania throwing everything forward and have not lacked chances to equalise. Switzerland look dangerous though and are on the verge of victory. 

88' Kukeli finds himself in the book for stopping Embolo's break-away. Xhaka has been replaced by Gelson Fernandes

87' WHAT A CHANCE! Gashi is definitely onside as he goes through, the Switzerland defence stops, but Gashi's effort is poor and Sommer deflects the ball wide. 

83' Albania change: Shkelzen Gashi replaces Sadiku. 

82' Switzerland's chance to shout for a penalty now as Seferovic goes down under Berisha's challenge. Striker probably lucky not to find himself in the book for simulation. 

80' Big shouts for a penalty as Cikalleshi appears to be bundled over in the box. Referee waves away the protests. 

77' WHAT A CHANCE! Sadiku is finds himself with just Sommer to beat, but from a tight angle can only find the side netting! Albania fans thought it was in!

76' Switzerland making a change now: Dzemaili's time is up and he is replaced by Mainz's Fabian Frei. 

75' Seferovic tees up Embolo who curls the ball just wide of goal. 

73' Another Albanian substitution: Odise Roshi is replaced by Sokol Cikalleshi. Albania now have two strikers on the pitch. 

70' However, it's easily cleared. 

70' Albania have a corner. They've threatened more than expected in this second half. 

67' Behrami goes in the book following a foul in the build-up to the Albanian attack that led to Switzerland's counter-attack. 

67' Another unbelievable save from Berisha! Switzerland break away and Embolo puts Seferovic through on goal but the goalkeeper denies him sensationally once again. 

More on those recent substitutions: Embolo is a 19-year-old who can play on the wing or through the middle of the attack and is rumoured to be wanted by Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur

64' Kace's first involvement is to recieve a yellow card for a professional foul on Behrami. 

62' Two substitutions - one for each side: Breel Embolo replaces Mehmedi for Switzerland, while Taulant Xhaka's time on the pitch is up, he is replaced by Ergys Kace

60' Lots of space opening now as Albania seek an equaliser. Switzerland break away but Xhemaili slips and Albania have the ball back. 

55' Granit Xhaka slices a shot wide from 25-yards. The new Arsenal man seems frustrated with Xhemaili due to his teammate's slower tempo. He wants the pace sped up. 

53' Great save from Berisha! Xhaka puts Seferovic through into the left-hand channel and Berisha has to react quickly to parry the forward's powerfully driven effort. 

50' Almost an awkward moment from Djourou as he fails to control a high ball over the defence and almost plays in Sadiku, but Sommer is quick to thwart the forward. 

49' Rodriguez almost slips Shaqiri through on goal but Berisha is quick off his line. 

Hysaj took the captain's armband from Cana following the red card. The full-back was highlighted as a key player in our pre-tournament Albania preview. 

46' Second half is underway. 

Second half imminent. Could the floodgates open with Albania down to ten men or can they spring a surprise?

Stay tuned as we'll have the second half live with post-match reaction following the final whistle. 

45+1' Whistle goes for half-time. Switzerland lead ten-man Albania by a goal to nil. Schar's early header gives the Swiss an advantage, and their cause was benefitted further when Lorik Cana was shown a red card for deliberate handball having already been shown a yellow card earlier in the game. 

45' Assistant referee signals that there will be one minute of added time. 

40' Berisha forced into a good save once again as Xhaka threads a wonderful ball into Seferovic, but the striker shoots straight at the goalkeeper. Feel a second goal will come soon. 

40' CLOSE! Xhemaili shoots inches wide following a cut-back from Shaqiri. 

40' Albania sitting even deeper than they were before now.

38' Xhemaili's resulting free kick hits the post! Berisha was rooted to his spot. 

37' RED CARD! Cana is heading for an early bath here. First red card of the tournament in the second game. The defender, already on a yellow card, slips and handles the ball to prevent Seferovic going through on goal. 

31' Albania starting to ask serious questions of Switzerland now. The right-winger, Roshi, seems very dangerous and his low cross is held by Sommer. 

30' WHAT A SAVE FROM SOMMER! Sadiku goes one-on-one with the big goalkeeper but Sommer spreads himself well and blocks the forward's powerful effort. Curse of the commentator there?

'29 Approaching the half-hour mark now. Switzerland's important first goal gives them the edge and they have done well to contain Albania since Schar scored. 

'24 Taulant Xhaka plays a neat one-two with Roshi before blazing wide. First big chance for Albania. 

'21 Cana becomes the first Albanian player to be shown a yellow card for a strong challenge. 

16' Switerland now have a corner. Shaqiri booed each time he goes across to take. 

15' Switzerland pass themsevles straight through Albania and Seferovic forces Berisha into a save. Swiss striker should have done better around 20 yards out!

14' Taulant's free-kick is easily held by Sommer. 

13' Albania now have a free-kick in a dangerous position out wide. Schar, in a mixed first 15 minutes, receives the first caution for his troubles. 

13' The Swiss look to get in behind again but Shaqiri is stopped by the linesman's flag.

09' Switzerland comfortable to play the ball out from the back. Xhaka dropping between the two central defenders allowing the attack-minded full-backs to get high and wide. 

07' First spell of pressure from Albania is cleared by the goalscorer Schar. 

More on goal: Shaqiri's corner is met by the head of Fabian Schar. Berisha in the Albania goal will be disappointed having come to claim the ball. 

GOAAL! THE RESULTING CORNER IS HEADED IN BY SCHAR!

04' Superb cross-field ball from Granit Xhaka finds Rodriguez, whose eventual ball finds it way to Xhaka who shoots but it's deflected wide.

01' Switzerland have the first corner of the game as Mehmedi's cross is deflected behind.

Switzerland in their changed strip of white today, with Albania in red. 

KICK OFF: Amazing atmosphere in Lens, the second game of Euro 2016 is upon us!

As usual in these tournaments, the rest of the 23-man squad make the bench. 

Albanian anthem to follow. 

Teams now lining up for the national anthems and handshakes. Swiss anthem first...

Teams now in the tunnel with kick-off now very close. Not quite the fancy build-up we had yesterday.

Granit Xhaka says of his Albania or Switzerland decision: "Albania didn't show much interest in me."

15 minutes until kick-off. Players beginning to head back towards the dressing room. 

just over half an hour until kick off in Rennes. You can send in your score predictions to @VAVEL on Twitter. 

Team news: The big story from those teams is that the Xhaka brothers do indeed play against each other. Both start in midfield. Five Albanian-born players start for Switzerland. 

And here is the Confirmed Albania team: Berisha; Hysaj, Cana, Mavraj, Agolli; Kukeli, Xhaka, Roshi, Abrashi, Lenjani; Sadiku. 

Confirmed Switzerland team: Sommer; Lichsteiner, Schar, Djourou, Rodriguez; Behrami, Xhaka, Dzemaili; Shaqiri, Seferovic, Mehmedi.

We have team news!

Team news in just under ten minutes. Who are you expecting to start? Will the Xhaka brothers face off?

Fellow Group A contestants, France and Romania, kicked-off Euro 2016 last night. Dimitri Payet scored the winner in the 2-1 France victory with a sumblime early contender for Goal of the Tournament in the 89th minute. 

We'll have confirmed team news in just under an hour. For now, take a look at our preview here: Albania - Switzerland preview

We have written a pre-tournament preview for each nation here at VAVEL UK, and you can click on the following links to learn more about both teams: Switzerland & Albania.

Predicted Switzerland line-up: Sommer; Lichsteiner, Lang, Djourou, Rodriguez; Fernandes, Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Seferovic, Embolo. (4-3-3)

Predicted Albania line-up: Berisha; Hysaj, Djimsiti, Cana, Agolli; Gashi, T. Xhaka, Burim Kukeli, Abrashi, Lenjani; Cikalleshi. (4-5-1)

Switzerland key player: The Swiss squad has a blend of youth and experience, which has the potential to be a very good mix. Experienced defender Stephan Lichsteiner is likely to start at right-back, but Xhaka is the player to watch, particularly if he wants to force his way into the Arsenal team before the start of the season. His key strengths are his tackling, vision and his variation of passes, although his discipline has let him down in recent times.

Albania key player: The Red and Blacks’ squad is not filled with extreme talent and De Biasi has had to build a successful mentality through teamwork and playing as a unit, rather than expecting individuals to win matches. However, Napoli full-back Elseid Hysaj’s performances could go a long way in determining Albania’s fate at the competition. The defender, who can play either side of defence and also in midfield, earned his first call-up at the tender age of 18, and still has a very bright future at the age of 22. Typical of a modern full-back, Hysaj is very attack-minded, however, he is also comfortable when defending.

A rather rare occurrence in international football is siblings playing against each other, but this could happen in this game should Granit and Taulant Xhaka be on the pitch at the same time at any point. Granit, a new signing of Premier League side Arsenal, rejected the opportunity to play for Albania – the birthplace of several family members – in favour of his own birthplace Switzerland, where he also played his football at the time with FC Basel. He has since gone on to play, and captain, Borussia Monchengladbach before his move to the Emirates Stadium in a transfer that cost the North London club around £30 million. His older brother, Taulant, still plays for Basel but chose to play for the Albanian national team, despite playing for Switerland at youth level, after the Albanian federation expressed their interest in him.

2008 co-hosts, Switzerland, failed to qualify in 2012 but are favourites to finish second-place in Group A behind hosts France. Similar to their Albanian opponents, Head coach Vladimir Petkovic guided Rossocriciati to a runners-up place in qualifying Group E, finishing behind England who won the group with a 100 per-cent winning record. Switzerland could make history this summer as they have previously never reached the knockout stages of the competition in their three attempts. They first qualified for the tournament in 1996, before also appearing in 2004 and 2008.

Albania finished runners-up in qualifying Group I to confirm their place at Euro 2016, finishing behind Portugal who De Biasi’s side beat in the first round of qualifying fixtures. Albania are no strangers to upsetting the odds, which is exemplified by them defeating France in a friendly last June and, in a year that has been dominated by the underdog, Albania will certainly be no pushover to their higher-quality opponents in Group A.

Albania head coach, Gianni De Biasi | Photo: Gazetta World
Albania head coach, Gianni De Biasi | Photo: Gazetta World

Albania, rather surprisingly, are taking part in their first-ever major men’s international tournament having failed to qualify for either the European Championships or the FIFA World Cup since their federation was founded in 1930. Head coach, Italian Gianni De Biasi, has invigorated the Albanian national team with his renowned and successful defensive-based tactics, having taken the job in 2011. With an approach typical of the style used throughout Italian football history, along with several players who ply their trade within the Italian football system, The Red and Blacks could prove a difficult test for a Swiss side who appear to be lacking confidence, having lost three of their last six games.

Today’s referee, Spaniard Carlos Velasco Carballo, officiated the opening game of the 2012 edition of the tournament. Velasco Carballo was the topic of much criticism during and after the game, having controversially sent-off Greece defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos in the first-half, before also showing a red card to Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. The referee, highly regarded among Spanish Primera division officials, also took charge of the 2014 World Cup match between Brazil and Colombia and was heavily criticised by Luiz Felipe Scolari in his post-match press conference. Velasco Carballo had wrongfully not sent-off Colombian Juan Camilo Zuniga for a reckless tackle on Neymar, which ended the Brazilian star’s tournament – as well as Brazil’s World Cup hopes as they crashed out in humiliating fashion.

Kick-off for this game is at 14:00 GMT, and will be played at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis – home of Ligue 2 side Racing Club de Lens. The ground holds 38,223 fans.

Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK’s live coverage and match commentary of the 2016 European Championship game between Albania and Switzerland. I, Sam Smith, am your host for today and I shall be taking your right through the build-up as we get closer to kick-off and will also have live minute-by-minute commentary so you won’t miss a kick.