Euro 2024: Italy Begin Title Defence With Slim Win Over Albania

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Defending champions Italy came back from the dead to defeat Albania after going behind in the early stages of the encounter.

The Red and Blacks netted early in virtually the 1st minute of action, with Nedim Bejrami punishing the Azzuri for their frailties.

Italy responded poorly from a throw, with Bejrami pouncing quickly on a loose ball, directing an effort into the top corner past Gianluigi Donnaruma at his near post.

Ten minutes later, Alessandro Bastoni brought Luciano Spalletti’s side back into the game, with a brilliant header following a cross from Lorenzo Pellegrini towards the far post.

Nicolo Barella subsequently poked Italy in front in the 16th minute, with a phenomenal first-time strike past the flat-footed Albanian goalie Thomas Strakosha.

Seven minutes later, Lorenzo Pellegrini had his name taken down into the referee’s book after a foul on Armando Broja.

Italy had a golden opportunity to increase their lead, with Pellegrini winning a header that trickled onto the path of Scamacca, who pulled off a big save from Strakosha at a tight angle.

Euro 2024: Italy Secure Tight Win Over Albania

The Azzurri went into the break and confident, following their display in the opening half but aware of the threats that Albiana could pose.

Meanwhile, 6 minutes into the second period, Italy’s Riccardo Calafiori was shown a yellow card for dragging Broja, with the latter also receiving a yellow for battling with the defender.

In a bid to change the game, Albania boss Sylvinho introduced Arber Hoxha for Jasir Asani in the 68th minute, while Qazim Laci came on for Taulant Seferi.

Six minutes after coming on, Arba also had his name penned into the referee’s book for a foul on Frattesi.

In the 77th minute, Armando Broja was withdrawn for Rey Manaj. Italy also made their substitutions, with Andrea Cambiaso coming on for Federico Chiesa, while Bryan Cristante came on for Lorenzo Pellegrini.

Seven minutes before the expiration of the affair, Mateo Retegui was brought on by Azzuri boss Spalletti, while Matteo Darmian replaced Federico Dimarco.

Moreover, Albania made their last and final change in the 87th minute, while Ernest Muci was substituted for goalscorer Nedim Bejrami.

The Red and Blacks had a big chance to equalize in the 90th minute, with Manaj ghosting into space, but his attempt was pretty much uncoordinated.

Italy’s final substitution came in the 2nd minute of added time, with Michael Folorunsho entering the fray for Nicolo Barella.

The defending champions commence their title defence on a winning note, silencing Albania despite their cracking start to the game.

They move to 2nd in Group B behind Spain, who defeated Croatia 3-0 in the earlier game in the group.

Spain and Italy battle next in the group on Thursday, June 20, 2024, in what is expected to be a fiery showdown.

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