France and Switzerland play out a lively goal-less draw to become the first 2 teams to secure qualification in the round of 16.
Armando Sadiku scores historic goal to help Albania beat Romania 1-0 to give them a shot at qualifying for the knockout rounds.
France 0-0 Switzerland
Didier Deschamps’ men secured top spot in Group A with 7 points after their 0-0 draw against Vladmir Petkovic’s Switzerland side, who finished second in the group with 5 points to their credit. The final match of the group stages may have finished without any goals, but it was anything but dull.
Deschamps decided to give some of his fringe players a look-in for this encounter, and handed out starts to Yohan Cabaye, André-Pierre Gignac and Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal target Moussa Sissoko. Unfortunately, this match wouldn’t see a magnificent last minute match winner from Dmitri Payet or anyone, for that matter.
The first half saw Paul Pogba’s best performance of the tournament. It started off by the Real Madrid target saving his team in the 8th minute with a goal line clearance from a corner. He was later denied twice in the space of 3 minutes by Swiss keeper Jann Sommer with magnificent saves, before he unleashed a strike from his left foot which thundered off the crossbar. Impeccable passes to Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman and Andre Gignac were skewed wide. It was the Paul Pogba show in the first half, but he had nothing to show for it at the end of first half stoppage time.
In the second half, Deschamp’s decided to bring out the big guns – Dmitri Payet for Kingsley Coman. But even France’s newest hero couldn’t manage to help them win this one. Switzerland had managed to keep the French out for over an hour, as they slowly began to find their feet going forward.
Payet, on one occasion, came close to socring when he smashed the ball off the underside of the Swiss crossbar. Three minutes from time, Payet would again have a chance to win it with a free kick from a dangerous spot, but he could only manage to smash the ball into Moussa Sissoko. Switzerland continued to sit back and defend as they had for most of the game and eventually, both sides shared a point.
Romania 0-1 Albania
It was a historic day for Albanian football on Sunday night, as they registered their first ever win at a major tournament. Armando Sadiku’s scored the solitary goal of the match to give the Albanians some hope of qualifying into the round of 16.
The Romanians started off the game as the more dominant side. They were looking likely and almost in control, but the Albanians began to find their feat, as they started to create chances. Ledian Memushaj and Migjen Basha both came close to socring.
Then, the Parc Olympique Lyonnais witnessed history being made as Ledian Memushaj crossed the ball into the penalty box from the right, and with the help of some bad defending from Chiriches and the keeper, Armando Sadiku headed the ball into the bottom right of the goal. The Albanian fans in the arena were in raptures as Sadiku ran over to an ecstatic Albanian bench to celebrate.
Even after taking the lead, Albania didn’t sit back and defend, rather, Gianni De Biasi’s men tried to push forward in attack whenever they could. Romania managed to hit the crossbar once while Albania’s Mërgim Mavraj nearly settled the game towards the end, when he came close to scoring.
At the final whistle, there was a huge outpour of emotions in the stands as well as on the pitch as the players and the fans celebrated Albanis’s first victory in a major competition.