Italy Begins the Euro with Victory, Despite Conceding the Fastest Goal in the History of the Euro Cup

Italy vs Albania
Italy vs Albania (Credit: Getty Images)

Italy, the current Euro champion, survived on Saturday before 50,000 rival fans present in Dortmund and overcame a quick opening goal from Albania to start the Euro Cup with a hard-fought 2-1 victory.

Alessandro Bastoni (11) and Nicolo Barella (16) scored the winning goals for the ‘Nationale’, although the goal for which this match will be remembered will be that of the Albanian Nedim Bajrami.

The Sassuolo attacker scored the fastest goal in the history of the tournament 23 seconds into the game, after taking advantage of a poor delivery by defender Federico Dimarco, to put Albania ahead in front of tens of thousands of fans present at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund.

Accustomed to turning yellow every other weekend to support Borussia Dortmund, the legendary stadium was dressed in red on Saturday, creating an atmosphere similar to that of the Arena Kombetare, home of the Albanian team.

The team, led by Brazilian Sylvinho, with up to five players from the Italian championship on the field, used the crowd’s push to destabilize the Italians in the early stages of the match.

As soon as the match started, Italy gave up a throw-in near their area and Dimarco made a mistake when trying to pass the ball towards their central defense. Bajrami did not forgive from close range, with a powerful shot at the near post that left Gianluigi Donnarumma with no options.

The scoreboard only showed 23 seconds at the moment the ball crossed the goal line, making this goal the fastest scored in the history of the Euro Cup.

The past record was held by Russian Dmitri Kirichenko, who in Euro 2004 opened the scoring against Greece after 67 seconds of the match.

After the goal, which fell like a bucket of cold water on a doubtful and shocked ‘Nationale’ after failing to qualify for either of the last two editions of the World Cup, the ‘Azzurri’ began to impose themselves and gain meters, overcoming the momentum of the Albanians.

After a corner kick played short, Lorenzo Pellegrini placed a cross to the far post, where Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni jumped to restore the tie to the score and calm the Italians.

Solution to vacuum:

And in a historic moment in which the ‘Nationale’ did not have a natural goalscorer, it was once again Nicolo Barella who, with a powerful shot from the edge of the area, ahead of the present champions with his 10th goal for the national team.

Although Italy had numerous opportunities to achieve a larger and more reassuring result, the scoreboard would not move, allowing the ‘Azzurri’ to start the tournament with victory in the complicated group B.

Luciano Spalletti’s men were on the verge of regretting their lack of success in closing the match when attacker Rey Manaj came close to equalizing in added time (90+1).

Jorginho and Barella marked the times and possession of the ball against Albania that was lost in individual adventures on the run. Of course, the game could have ended with the same surprise with which it began. In the 90th minute, Donnarumma saved a one-on-one with Manaj with his side. It was the last great outburst of the Albanian fans, who bid farewell to their internationals with honors.

Spain, their next rival on Thursday in Gelsenkirchen, beat Croatia 3-0 in Berlin, which leaves the ‘Red’ as provisional leader of the ‘Group of Death’ thanks to the best goal difference at the end of the match.

Read More: Spain Thrashes Luka Modric’s Croatia 3-0 at the start of Euro 2024

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