Italy secure win after initial scare

UEFA Euro 2024 – Group B

Italy………….2

Albania……1

The final whistle blows and defending champions Italy celebrate a winning start to their UEFA EURO 2024 campaign. They had a scare early on through Bajrami’s record-breaking early goal but responded quickly to put themselves in front and held onto their lead to take three points. Spain await the Azzurri next, while Albania will look to bounce back against Croatia.

Ultimately Italy were good value for their win but it was Albania who rocketed out of the blocks. The match was not 23 seconds old, with the deafening pre-match anthems still echoing around the BVB Stadion Dortmund, when Nedim Bajrami seized upon Federico Dimarco’s wayward throw and fired in.

Albania’s dream start was the stuff of nightmares for the Azzurri, but the holders’ response was superlative – within 15 minutes they were in front. First Alessandro Bastoni rose imperiously to head in following a short corner before Nicolò Barella’s stunning first-time strike completed the turnaround.

So far, so frenetic. With their noses in front, Italy calmed things down, passing Albania into submission before hitting fast and hard. Thomas Strakosha kept the underdogs in it, denying the lively Gianluca Scamacca and brilliantly turning Nicolò Fagioli’s effort on to the post.

And there was almost a shock finish to match the start, Albania substitute Rey Manaj clipping a late effort just wide, but the holders are up and running.

Line Ups:

Italy: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bastoni, Calafiori, Dimarco (Darmian 83); Jorginho, Barella (Folorunsho 90+2); Frattesi, Pellegrini (Cristiante 77), Chiesa (Cambiaso 77); Scamacca (Retegui 83)

Albania: Strakosha; Hysaj, Djimsiti, Ajeti, Mitaj; Asllani, Ramadani, Bajrami (Muçi 87); Asani (Hoxha 68), Broja (Manaj 77), Seferi (Laçi 68)

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