Switzerland got off the mark in group A, as Fabian Schar grabbed the only goal of the contest against a resolute Albania side.
Stoke star Xherdan Shaqiri swung in the corner that lead to Fabian Schar’s opening goal. The former Basel man is known for his goal-scoring prowess from set pieces, and he was the player that leaped highest to latch on to the cross and give his side the early lead.
Albania, being one of the tournaments lowest ranked sides this year, found it difficult to create a clear opening. Armando Sadiku was denied by the legs of Yann Sommer as Albania looked to level proceedings. The defining moment of the match would come just before half time. Talismanic central defender Lorik Cana would collect his second booking of the afternoon, receiving the first red card of the tournament in just the second match.
In truth, the former Sunderland man’s handball denied a clear goal-scoring opportunity for Haris Seferovic and could have easily been deemed as a straight red.
With the numerical advantage, the Swiss began to apply some pressure. Dominating the possession in the centre of the park, but rarely threatening Etrit Berisha’s goal. Much like Romania yesterday, Albania look extremely sturdy defensively but don’t have the clinically in the attacking areas to give teams such as Switzerland a scare.
Yann Sommer had the last laugh for Switzerland as he produced a world class stop to deny Albania’s impact substitute Shkelzen Gashi. The Colorado Rapids forward was threaded through with seconds remaining but wasted the opportunity to create history, and net Albania first European championship goal.
New Arsenal signing Granit Xhaka looked very capable from central midfield. His pinpoint passing often lead to Eintracht Frankfurt frontman testing the Albanian backline. But at the end of the day, the attacking triangle of Shaqiri, Mehmedi and Seferovic, will have to be more brutal with their chances should they progress from the group stages.
Man of the match Yann Sommer
Final score – Albania 0-1 Switzerland