Italy triumphs over Albania after conceding fastest goal in Euro Cup history

DORTMUND: Italy overcame the shock of conceding the fastest goal ever scored in a European Championship to secure a 2-1 victory over Albania on Saturday. Alessandro Bastoni and Nicolo Barella were instrumental in ensuring the defending champions made a winning start to the tournament.

The match began in dramatic fashion at Dortmund’s BVB Stadion when Nedim Bajrami capitalized on a rash throw-in by Federico Dimarco to score after just 23 seconds. This goal shattered the previous record held by Russia’s Dmitri Kirichenko, who scored after 67 seconds against Greece in 2004.

Despite the early setback and the raucous support for Albania, Italy quickly regained composure. In the 11th minute, Bastoni headed home a well-placed corner from Lorenzo Pellegrini, bringing the score level. Just five minutes later, Barella put Italy ahead with a powerful strike from outside the box. Davide Frattesi almost extended the lead further in the 34th minute, but Albanian goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha made a crucial save, tipping the shot onto the post.

Fielding a team rich with Serie A talent, Albania struggled to keep up with Italy’s fast-paced and precise passing game. Luciano Spalletti’s new-look Italian side dominated possession but created few clear-cut chances.

Albania’s coach, Sylvinho, acknowledged the pressure his team faced. “It wasn’t easy for us,” he told Sky Sport. “We have young players and there was some nervousness. Italy are a strong side and we were in a battle with them. The lads did well.”

This tournament in Germany serves as a critical step for Italy as they aim to return to the World Cup after missing out in both 2018 and 2022. With victory in their opening match, Italy now looks ahead to a crucial encounter against Spain on Thursday, who started their campaign with a 3-0 win over Croatia. Meanwhile, Albania will face Croatia on Wednesday in Group B.(Reuters)

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