Euro 2016: Sadiku strikes but Albania must wait

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Euro 2016: Sadiku strikes but Albania must wait
Armando Sadiku (left) was the star performer for Albania.

Published: Mon 20 Jun 2016, 10:42 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 Jun 2016, 12:55 AM

Armando Sadiku made history for Albania on Sunday as his goal secured a 1-0 win against Romania at Euro 2016 to give the Balkan nation their first ever victory at a major tournament.
Sadiku headed a Ledian Memushaj cross over goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu two minutes before half-time in Lyon as Albania scored their first goal at the tournament to keep alive their chances of reaching the last 16.
Romania were eliminated while Gianni De Biasi's Albania, with three points and a negative goal difference, must now wait until the completion of the final round of group matches before finding out if they qualify for the last 16 as one of the four best third-placed sides.
Albania had lost their opening two games and thousands of people took to the streets of the capital Tirana, waving flags, sounding car horns and lighting flares in celebration of their team's historic victory.
"I am sure the Albanians will be really happy. Not only those who live in Albania but also those who are spread around the world," said the team's Italian coach De Biasi.
"I'm very happy for the team, in the first two games we didn't get what we deserved, but today we won against a team that are very difficult to play against, very well organised defensively."
It's going to be a long three days for Albania as the small Balkan country waits to find out if it's to qualify for the knockout stages of the European Championship.
The result meant Albania, playing in its first major tournament, went above Romania in the group rankings into third place with three points, and still in with a chance to make the round of 16.
"It was historical for us to reach the European Championship's final stages, and finally we have won the three points," Albania center back Arlind Ajeti said via a translator. "We have made history."
Ajeti and the Albania team will have to wait until the group stage of Euro 2016 finishes on Wednesday before it finds out whether it will be one of the four third-place teams to make it through to the next round.
Albania's future in the competition depends on what happens over the coming days but coach Giovanni De Biasi said his team will be preparing as though it has another match to play.
"If we stay in the tournament we will be trouble to other teams, to important teams, because today we got some more confidence, we needed the first two games to settle in," he said via a translator.
Albania's defense has impressed in Euro 2016 and the team stuck to the same type of game plan it used in its two hard-fought losses to Switzerland and France.
Armando Sadiku scored the sole goal in the match and Albania's first in an international competition in the 43rd minute with a header.
Ledian Memushaj picked out Sadiku drifting at the far post with a well-placed cross that the striker coolly nodded back over goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu, who had left his line. "Tonight we won with heart and with quality," De Biasi said. "We didn't get many chances, we played with our head, with mental strength."
"I can't find the words to express what I'm feeling right now and the fact that we've disappointed millions of people who believed in us," Romania defender Nicolae Stanciu said. "I think we controlled the game but we didn't manage to create clear chances - we weren't decisive enough in front of goal."
Albania's players celebrated the historic victory with their Italian coach after the final whistle, while the team's large contingent of fans cheered wildly at the Stade de Lyon.
"A very happy moment to see all the Albanians, to make them happy and see them rejoicing," goal scorer Sadiku said.

By AFP

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