Romania first to exit tournament as group minnows seal famous victory
ARMANDO Sadiku’s first-half header clinched Albania their maiden win at a major tournament and first against Romania in 68 years, to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the Euro 2016 knockout stages.
Sadiku headed home two minutes before half-time to seal a famous Group A victory for Gianni De Biasi’s minnows that could see them progress as one of the best third-placed teams.
Romania, the first country to bow out of the tournament and who last lost to Albania in 1948, went in search of an equaliser, but despite hitting a post through substitute Florin Andone in the 76th minute, they rarely tested Albania goalkeeper Etrit Berisha.
Romania midfielder Nicolae Stanciu fired the game’s first chance over the crossbar in the third minute before another long-range effort from midfielder Ovidiu Hoban forced Albania goalkeeper Berisha into a nervous, fumbling save.
Albania defender Andi Lila escaped a booking for an apparent elbow on Romania defender Alexandru Matel. Berisha did well soon after to block Bogdan Stancu’s blistering volley.
Hoban was then on the receiving end of a reckless high tackle from midfielder Migjen Basha as Albania continued to tread close to the line. Albania had to wait until the 20th minute for their first effort on target. Migjen Basha’s tame low shot from 30 yards was easily gathered by Romania goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Albania continued to create chances and grow in confidence and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 43rd minute.
Memushaj sent over a teasing cross from the right that was missed by goalkeeper Tatarusanu and Sadiku pounced to head home from six yards.
Sadiku left the field to a standing ovation in the second half in a tactical switch with Bekim Balaj.
Memushaj went close to doubling Albania’s lead with a thumping drive in the 63rd minute and Romania twice went close to an equaliser, including Andone’s woodwork shot. But Albania refused to buckle.
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