Euro 2024: Italy Triumphs Over Albania After Record Breaking Early Goal

Euro 2024 showdown: In a crucial match for Italy in one of the toughest groups of Euro 2024, the defending champions overcame an early scare to secure a 2-1 victory over Albania.

This win sets the stage for a more challenging encounter against Spain on Thursday.

Euro 2024: Italy Triumphs Over Albania After Record Breaking Early Goal
Alessandro Bastoni scored the first goal. Photo Credit: Sky Soprts

Alessandro Bastoni and Nicolo Barella made sure the reigning champions got off to a winning start in the competition as Italy overcame shock after giving up the fastest goal ever scored at a European Championship, winning 2-1 against Albania on Saturday.

After just 23 seconds, tens of thousands of boisterous, red-shirted Albanian supporters filled the Dortmund BVB Stadion with excitement as Nedim Bajrami scored from an angle, taking advantage of a careless throw-in by defender Federico Dimarco.

The goal broke the previous mark, which was held by Dmitri Kirichenko of Russia in 2004 when he scored against Greece after 67 seconds. But despite the chaos, Italy maintained composure and equalized in the eleventh minute with Bastoni’s header after Lorenzo Pellegrini swung a short corner in to the far post.

Five minutes later, Barella hammered home from outside the box to put the Azzurri ahead. In the 34th minute, Davide Frattesi had a chance to increase the Italians’ lead, but Albanian goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha deflected his chipped shot onto the post.

Albania fielded a roster full of Serie A players, but they were largely reduced to supporting roles as Italy coach Luciano Spalletti’s revamped team dominated with deft and quick passing while producing few opportunities.

In just his third international match, central defender Riccardo Calafiori made an impression by filling in for more seasoned teammates who were injured.

Spalletti, who won the Serie A championship with Napoli the previous year, took over the national squad in September after Roberto Mancini abruptly left to coach Saudi Arabia after leading Italy to the 2020 European Championship.

Spalletti commended his team for not letting the early loss get to them down. “They were excellent because they all understood the challenges the squad was facing and they acted morally. Nobody raised their arms in the air,” he remarked.

Also Read: Germany’s Dominating Victory (5-1) over 10-Man Scotland in UEFA Euro 2024 Opener

“They demonstrated that they are a morally solid squad. With them, I’m content. However, there are numerous areas that require improvement.”

Coach Sylvinho of Albania claimed that his team had sensed the anxiety before the start of only their second major competition. “It wasn’t easy for us,” the former Brazil player admitted to Sky Sports. “Some uneasiness was evident because our guys are young. We were against Italy, who are a formidable opponent. The boys performed admirably.”

Italy’s aspirations to return to the World Cup are significantly boosted by the competition in Germany, as they were not able to qualify for the premier soccer event in the world in 2018 or 2022.

Italy’s victory was crucial in the tournament’s most difficult group, and they will face a greater test on Thursday when they play Spain, who defeated Croatia 3-0 in Berlin. On Wednesday, Albania takes on Croatia in Group B.

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