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Italy national football team
European Championship | Group Stage
Jun 15, 2024 at 8pm UK
Albania national football team

2 - 1

Bastoni (11'), Barella (16')
Pellegrini (22'), Calafiori (51')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Bajrami (1')
Broja (51'), Hoxha (74')

Italy recover from early setback to overcome Albania at Euro 2024

Italy overcome shocking start to claim narrow win over Albania at Euro 2024
© Reuters
Italy bounce back from an early setback to record a 2-1 victory over Albania in their Euro 2024 opener on Saturday night.

European Championship holders Italy bounced back from an early setback to record a 2-1 victory over Albania in their Euro 2024 opener on Saturday night.

Nedim Bajrami created history when he scored for Albania after 23 seconds, with his effort proving to be the fastest goal of all time at a European Championship.

However, Alessandro Bastoni levelled the scores in the 11th minute, before Nicolo Barella sent Italy ahead five minutes later, and the defending champions managed to navigate their way to all three points in their Group B opener.

Spain set the tone in Group B earlier in the evening with a three-goal success over Croatia, and it is shaping up to be a fascinating section, with Albania certainly up against it when it comes to progression to the knockout round of the competition.

Albania's Nedim Bajrami celebrates scoring against Italy on June 15, 2024© Reuters

Italy overcome early shock to triumph in Group B

There were no major surprises in the Italy side, with Barella featuring in midfield after recovering from a thigh issue, while Gianluca Scamacca was given the nod down the middle.

As for Albania, a 4-2-3-1 formation had Chelsea's Armando Broja at centre-forward, while Atalanta BC's Berat Djimsiti captained the team from the middle of the defence.

Incredibly, Albania made the breakthrough after 23 seconds - the fastest goal in European Championship history - with Bajrami smashing one past Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma after a mistake from Federico Dimarco, with the defender's loose throw finding the Albania attacker inside the Italy box.

There was almost an instant response from Lorenzo Pellegrini, but the attacker fired his effort wide after a clever flick from Scamacca.

Italy did manage to level in the 11th minute, though, with Bastoni's header from a short corner looping into the back of the net, with Thomas Strakosha unable to make the save.

The holders then took the lead in the 16th minute, with Barella's strike from outside the penalty box finding a route past Strakosha, who was unsighted.

Italy join Spain on three points in Group B

Albania had made such a positive start, but Italy were in control from that point forward, and it almost became 3-1 in the 33rd minute, with Davide Frattesi's effort from inside the box coming off the post.

Italy had another opportunity late in the first period, but Scamacca was denied by the Albanian goalkeeper, with Luciano Spalletti's side dominating the contest after their poor start.

Pellegrini had another chance in first-half stoppage time, but he somehow guided the ball wide from close range, with Albania given a huge let-off in the final stages of the opening 45 minutes.

Strakosha made another big save to deny Frattesi early in the second period, and although the offside flag was raised, it would have been a very tight call if the midfielder had found the back of the net.

Federico Chiesa whistled one wide just before the hour, but Albania, in just their second-ever European Championship, did show improvement in the second period and almost levelled late on through Rey Manaj, only for the substitute's effort to be turned behind by Donnarumma's back.

Italy ultimately held on for all three points, with the defending champions joining Spain on three points in Group B, while Sylvinho's side are on zero points with Croatia.

When are Italy, Albania next in action?

Next up for Italy is a clash against Spain on June 20, and La Roja will enter that match off the back of an impressive 3-0 victory over Croatia.

Albania, meanwhile, will tackle Croatia on June 19, with both sides under pressure to triumph due to their losses on the opening matchday.

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Albania's Nedim Bajrami celebrates scoring their first goal on June 15, 2024 [IMAGO]
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Group A

Q Germany Germany32107
Q Switzerland Switzerland31205
3 Hungary Hungary31023
4 Scotland flag Scotland30121

Group B

Q Spain Spain33009
Q Italy Italy31114
3 Croatia Croatia30212
4 Albania national flag Albania30121

Group C

Q England flag England31205
Q Denmark Denmark30303
Q Slovenia Slovenia30303
4 Serbia Serbia30212

Group D

Q Austria Austria32016
Q France France31205
Q Netherlands Netherlands31114
4 Poland Poland30121

Group E

Q Romania Romania31114
Q Belgium Belgium31114
Q Slovakia Slovakia31114
4 Ukraine Ukraine31114

Group F

Q Portugal Portugal32016
Q Turkey Turkey32016
Q Georgia Georgia31114
4 Czech Republic Czech Republic30121

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