European Championship

Albania 0-1 Switzerland

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport

Ten-man Albania were denied a historic point on their European Championship debut as Switzerland ran out winners in a hotly contested game in Lens.

Fabian Schar's header proved crucial after goalkeeper Etrit Berisha flapped at Xherdan Shaqiri's corner.

Despite Swiss control of play, Armando Sadiku wasted a great chance to make it 1-1 before Albania captain Lorik Cana received a second yellow for handball.

After poor Swiss finishing, Shkelzen Gashi almost levelled late on.

The substitute was put clean through with three minutes left but Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer made a crucial save, his second after denying Sadiku in the first half, to leave Albanian fans aghast.

Switzerland's first opening-game win in four attempts at a European Championship puts them second in Group A behind hosts France, who beat Romania 2-1 on Friday.

But it should put them close to reaching the knockout stages for the first time after finishing bottom of their group at tournaments in 1996, 2004 and 2008.

Shkelzen Gashi misses with three minutes left
Alabanian substitute Shkelzen Gashi shows his anguish after missing with three minutes left

Granit on top as Xhaka brothers make history

Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka and elder sibling Taulant became the first brothers to play on opposing sides at the European Championship, highlighting the homogeneous nature of this fixture, played before a passionate crowd.

Six of Switzerland's 23-man squad have family links to Albania or Kosovo, while 10 of the Albanian squad were born or raised in Switzerland.

The Xhaka brothers were both born in Switzerland, after their parents fled Kosovo, and came through the youth system at Basel. But Taulant failed to make it to the senior Swiss side after playing for the Under-21s, and switched allegiance to Albania.

Granit, who recently joined Arsenal for a reported £35m from Borussia Monchengladbach, showed "promise" in this win, according to BBC pundit Danny Murphy.

The midfielder set up three decent chances and had the most touches of anyone on the pitch, with Murphy adding: "His passing looks very nice and he has a determination to get back and retrieve the ball so there is a nice balance to his game."

Taulant also created one good opening after a smart one-two with Odise Roshi but shot over and he was replaced after 63 minutes, much to his distaste as he threw a water bottle at the dugout.

Granit Xhaka (left) greets his brother Taulant
Granit Xhaka (left) greets his brother after making 115 passes and 129 touches, more than any other player on the pitch in both categories

Swiss show greater experience

Despite the Albanian supporters' barracking of Shaqiri, who is one of the Swiss players born in Kosovo, Vladimir Petkovic's side were quick to show their greater experience, and had already made inroads down the flanks before the opener.

Albania responded well, but when Sadiku's close-range effort was saved by Sommer, it proved costly - as former Sunderland player Cana was then sent off six minutes later.

Cana could have had little complaint with BBC pundit Thierry Henry suggesting he was lucky not to receive a straight red card.

After allowing Haris Seferovic to run the wrong side of him, Cana slipped on the edge of the penalty area and then used his hand to deny the Swiss striker.

The fact that Switzerland did not capitalise on their numerical advantage was mostly down to Seferovic, who wasted several good opportunities.

And he was fortunate that Sommer was in good form to deny Gashi late on, with the Albanian manager Giovanni de Biasi furious at another missed one-on-one chance.

Fabian Schar heads in goalkeeper Etrit Berisha flapped at Xherdan Shaqiri's corner
Fabian Schar heads in goalkeeper Etrit Berisha flapped at Xherdan Shaqiri's corner

Man of the match - Granit Xhaka (Switzerland)

Granit Xhaka
Granit Xhaka (right) sat in front of the Swiss defence but was influential all over the pitch

What they said

Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic: "I was not afraid of losing our lead, but we should have scored more. We will be mentally stronger after coming through this.

"The first 20 minutes were very important and very good. After that, we played backwards too much and allowed them back into the game."

Albania coach Giovanni De Biasi: "The key moments of the game were the goal from Fabian Schar, the dismissal of Lorik Cana and our three misses from close range that could have changed the game.

"The red card really changed the balance of the game. We had to change our approach."

The stats you need to know

  • Switzerland have won six of their seven meetings with Albania, drawing the other.
  • Xherdan Shaqiri has had a hand in nine goals in his past eight competitive appearances for Switzerland (five goals, four assists).
  • The last four teams making their Euro finals debut have all lost their first match (Latvia 2004, Poland and Austria 2008 and Albania 2016).
  • Albania are also the fourth team to be shown a red card on their Euros debut (England 1968, Netherlands 1976 and Bulgaria 1996).
  • Albania's Etrit Berisha made six saves in this game, more than he did in any of the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Albanian supporters
Albanian fans showed their passion throughout, with this fixture one of the first to sell out at Euro 2016

What next?

Switzerland face Romania on Wednesday 15 June at Parc des Prince in Paris as they aim to seal their passage to the second round while Albania go in search of their first European Championship point against hosts France at Stade Velodrome on the same day.



Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Berisha
  • 4Hysaj
  • 5CanaBooked at 36mins
  • 15MavrajBooked at 90mins
  • 7Agolli
  • 22Abrashi
  • 13KukeliBooked at 89mins
  • 14XhakaSubstituted forKaceat 62'minutesBooked at 63mins
  • 21RoshiSubstituted forCikalleshiat 74'minutes
  • 10SadikuSubstituted forGashiat 82'minutes
  • 3Lenjani


  • 2Lila
  • 6Veseli
  • 8Basha
  • 9Memushaj
  • 11Gashi
  • 12Shehi
  • 16Cikalleshi
  • 17Aliji
  • 18Ajeti
  • 19Balaj
  • 20Kace
  • 23Hoxha


Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Sommer
  • 2Lichtsteiner
  • 22SchärBooked at 13mins
  • 20Djourou
  • 13Rodríguez
  • 11BehramiBooked at 67mins
  • 10Xhaka
  • 23ShaqiriSubstituted forFernandesat 88'minutes
  • 15DzemailiSubstituted forFreiat 76'minutes
  • 18MehmediSubstituted forEmboloat 62'minutes
  • 9Seferovic


  • 3Moubandje
  • 4Elvedi
  • 5Von Bergen
  • 6Lang
  • 7Embolo
  • 8Frei
  • 12Hitz
  • 14Zakaria
  • 16Fernandes
  • 17Tarashaj
  • 19Derdiyok
  • 21Bürki
Carlos Velasco Carballo

Match Stats

Home TeamAlbaniaAway TeamSwitzerland
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Albania 0, Switzerland 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Albania 0, Switzerland 1.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Ricardo Rodríguez (Switzerland).

  4. Post update

    Ergys Kace (Albania) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Booking

    Mergim Mavraj (Albania) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  6. Post update

    Breel Embolo (Switzerland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Mergim Mavraj (Albania).

  8. Post update

    Foul by Gelson Fernandes (Switzerland).

  9. Post update

    Ergys Kace (Albania) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  10. Booking

    Burim Kukeli (Albania) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  11. Post update

    Breel Embolo (Switzerland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Burim Kukeli (Albania).

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Switzerland. Gelson Fernandes replaces Xherdan Shaqiri.

  14. Post update

    Corner, Albania. Conceded by Yann Sommer.

  15. Post update

    Attempt saved. Shkelzen Gashi (Albania) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Amir Abrashi with a through ball.

  16. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Ergys Kace (Albania) header from the centre of the box is blocked.

  17. Post update

    Granit Xhaka (Switzerland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Shkelzen Gashi (Albania).

  19. Post update

    Corner, Switzerland. Conceded by Mergim Mavraj.

  20. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Fabian Frei (Switzerland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

As It Stood




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2Northern Ireland00000000


2Czech Rep00000000


3R. of Ireland00000000


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