Joy in Albania at historic win

first_img“Goooooooooool” tweeted Albanian Prime Minister Edi RamaTirana, ALBANIA | AFP |Thousands of Albanians celebrated wildly in the streets of the capital Tirana on Sunday after the national football team secured its first ever victory in a major international finals. Car horns blared and red flags stamped with the black eagle of Albania flew while flares lit up the night sky.At Euro 2016, Albania had lost to Switzerland and then to host nation France.But on Sunday a header from Armando Sadiku, who plays in the backwaters of European football for Liechtenstein club Vaduz, gave the Albanians a famous 1-0 victory over Romania.“Goooooooooool” tweeted Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama. Armando Sadiku scored Albania’s first goal at a major tournament in a historic 1-0 win over Romania on Sunday to keep alive their slender hopes of progressing to the Euro 2016 knockout phase.Sadiku headed home the game’s only goal after 43 minutes in Lyon to leave debutants Albania facing an anxious wait to see if they qualify from Group A as one of the four best third-placed teams.Host nation France progressed as group winners following a 0-0 draw with second-placed Switzerland as Albania finished third on three points, but Romania exited with just a single point.“I’m sure the Albanians are really happy. We’re pleased to make people happy. This team has a big heart. They give everything, perhaps even a bit much at times,” said Albania coach Gianni De Biasi.“The players wanted to score again and we almost had to stop them because we needed to be sensible in the final few minutes.“Now we’re going to prepare to possibly play a game on Friday or Saturday.”Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu made wholesale changes as Alexandru Matel replaced the injured Razvan Rat at left-back with Denis Alibec handed a start up front.Ovidiu Hoban, Adrian Popa and Nicolae Stanciu were all recalled after the 1-1 draw with Switzerland, while Albania brought in Migjen Basha in place of the suspended Burim Kukeli in midfield.However, there was no room in the starting line-up for skipper Lorik Cana following his return from a one-match ban having been sent off in his team’s opening game.Stanciu fired over with an early long-range strike as Romania signalled their intentions, before a nervy Etrit Berisha smothered Hoban’s tame strike at the second attempt.Albania were fortunate Basha stayed on the pitch when he caught Hoban with a dangerous shoulder-high lunge after just six minutes, but they had to weather the storm as Romania continued to threaten.– Bar denies Andone –Bogdan Stancu, scorer of both Romania’s goals in their first two games, connected sweetly with a poor headed clearance with his volley batted away unconvincingly by Berisha.Alibec then curled narrowly wide from distance, but Albania started to impose themselves on the counter-attack as Ermir Lenjani skied over from point-blank range, although his blushes were spared by the offside flag.Ledian Memushaj shot straight at Ciprian Tatarusanu from a narrow angle, but the Romania goalkeeper was at fault as Sadiku nodded Albania ahead just before half-time.Memushaj’s driven right-wing cross was misjudged by Tatarusanu, who was left out of position as Sadiku headed back across goal to trigger wild celebrations among the sizeable Albanian support inside the Stade de Lyon.Memushaj forced Tatarusanu into a low save on the hour as Albania pressed for a second, but their dreams were nearly shattered when substitute Florin Andone rattled the crossbar on 76 minutes.The Cordoba striker raced through after a slick passing move only for his powerful strike to smack against the woodwork.Albania, who lost 1-0 to Switzerland before going down 2-0 to France in their first two games, must wait until the completion of the final round of group matches before finding out if they qualify for the last 16.Share on: WhatsAppcenter_img Thousands of fans erupted in joy in Mother Teresa Square which dominates the centre of Tirana.The win in Lyon gives Albania a slim chance of qualifying from their group as one of four third-placed teams to qualify for the knockout round.The team must await their fate — but on Sunday their fans could not have cared less.“We will celebrate achieving our dream this evening,” said Tatjana Mali, 27, a medical student who had an Albanian flag draped around her shoulders.“It’s a historic victory for all Albanians,” said Genta Skuraj.“We dominated the match and we showed what we can do.”Albania face wait after historic win over Romanialast_img read more

Mourinho meets familiar foes Man Utd as Liverpool resume title hunt

first_imgCity’s victory over Arsenal means Liverpool cannot seal a first league title in 30 years against Everton on Sunday, much to the blue side of Merseyside’s relief.Jurgen Klopp’s men are just two wins away from the historic feat and victory at Goodison Park will allow them the chance to win the league on home soil when Crystal Palace visit Anfield on Wednesday.“You can feel it,” said Klopp of the excitement building around his side’s return. “I feel the intensity everywhere.”The match will take place in Liverpool despite fears over fans congregating outside both stadiums in the city. Goodison and Anfield are separated by less than a mile.Klopp has urged his supporters to be “the best stay at home fans in the world”.The earliest Liverpool could now be crowned champions is on Monday should the Reds win and City lose at home to Burnley.At the other end of the table, Norwich, Villa and Bournemouth sit in the relegation zone, but just three points separate second-bottom Villa from Brighton in 15th.Rock-bottom Norwich can ramp up the pressure on those above them even more should they close to within three points of safety in the first match of the weekend against Southampton.Friday (all times GMT)Norwich v Southampton (1700), Tottenham v Manchester United (1915)SaturdayWatford v Leicester (1130), Brighton v Arsenal (1400), West Ham v Wolves (1630), Bournemouth v Crystal Palace (1845)SundayNewcastle v Sheffield United (1300), Aston Villa v Chelsea (1515), Everton v Liverpool (1800)MondayManchester City v Brighton (1900)Share on: WhatsApp Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho comes up against a former pupil, Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, on FridayLondon, United Kingdom | AFP |  Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho is hoping to exact revenge on former employers Manchester United, while Liverpool aim to move within one win of the title as the Premier League’s return kicks up a gear across a four-day weekend of action.The English top flight got its first taste of empty stands and strict hygiene protocols on Wednesday as Aston Villa’s goalless draw with Sheffield United and Manchester City’s 3-0 victory over Arsenal restarted the campaign.Despite the muted atmosphere, there remains plenty to play for at both ends of the table with the clash between Tottenham and United pivotal in the battle for Champions League qualification.Both sit outside the top four with nine games remaining. However, United’s position in fifth could be good enough to secure a return to the Champions League if Manchester City’s appeal against a two-season ban from European competition is unsuccessful.Spurs could prove to be the biggest winners of the three-month lockdown.Before the break, Mourinho claimed he could not wait for the season to finish as injuries to Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Moussa Sissoko and Steven Bergwijn appeared to have ended their campaigns.All four are now fit again and victory would lift Tottenham to within one point of the club that sacked Mourinho in December 2018.“The reality is we are now in a better position to where we were before,” said Mourinho.“We got Harry and Sonny back, the players with the best stats in terms of scoring and assists. They give us this kind of attacking power.”United were the form side in the league prior to the lockdown.Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are unbeaten in 11 games but also benefited from the break as Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba return from long-term injuries.Rashford has made waves for his power off the field with a campaign to provide vulnerable children with food vouchers forcing a British government U-turn.But the England international is desperate to get back on more familiar ground after being sidelined by a back injury since January.“It’s been a long time, but I think I needed it,” Rashford told Sky Sports.“Within my body I definitely feel confident again and ready to play games. The timing has worked out well for me.”Solskjaer said Pogba is “raring to go” after an injury-ravaged season and could be paired with January signing Bruno Fernandes in the United midfield for the first time.– Liverpool excitement building –last_img read more