Reuters

Switzerland edge 10-man Albania

Switzerland edge 10-man Albania

11/06/2016 at 15:58Updated 11/06/2016 at 19:21

Euro 2016 - Group A, Stade Bollaert-Delelis - Albania 0 Switzerland 1 (Schar 5)

Switzerland got their Euro 2016 campaign off to a winning start as they edged out a spirited 10-man Albania 1-0 in an entertaining Group A clash in Lens.

Fabian Schar's fifth minute header, the fastest the Swiss have ever scored at the Euros, proved enough to see off the Eagles who gave a good account of themselves on their debut at a major tournament.

Armando Sadiku and substitute Shkelzen Gashi had some great opportunities to level and make themselves heroes - including a one-on-one in which it seemed he must surely score - but they couldn't find the finish to punish the Swiss for failing to make the most of their one-man advantage.

It had looked bleak for Albania when captain Lorik Cana received a second yellow card for handling as he slipped trying to deny Haris Seferovic a clear run at goal prior to half time. But they rallied and with the inspired Etrit Berisha keeping the Swiss at bay between the sticks, they remained in with a chance of snatching a point right until the death.

Switzerland's Fabian Schar celebrates with teammates after scoring their first goal

Switzerland's Fabian Schar celebrates with teammates after scoring their first goalReuters

Switzerland have made no secret that they have their eyes set on reaching the last eight at this tournament but they will have to step it up a level in their remaining Group A matches if they are to achieve their target as they laboured to see off an impressive Albania.

TALKING POINT

Battle of the Xhakas. The match was billed as a clash of the Xhaka brothers, as Taulant (Albania) and Granit (Switzerland) became the first siblings to play against each other at a European Championships. There was no doubt who came out on top either, with the latter combining tough tackling with elegant passing to give Arsenal fans a flavour of what they can expect from their new signing next season. Taulant was substituted in the second half and vented his frustrations on the bench, but the Swiss were always favourites and Gunners will be keen to see how Granit fares when he goes toe to toe with the star-studded midfield of France.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Etrit Berisha (Albania). Produced a series of top-class saves, proving to be a real thorn in the side of Haris Seferovic. Could have done better for the opening goal but was unfortunate to be on the losing side by the end of the contest.

PLAYER RATINGS

SWITZERLAND: Sommer 7, Lichtsteiner 7, Schar 7, Djourou 6, Rodriguez 6; Behrami 6, Dzemaili 6, G Xhaka 7; Shaqiri 7, Seferovic 7, Mehmedi 6. Subs: Embolo 7, Frei 6, Fernandes n/a.

ALBANIA: Berisha 8, Hysaj 7, Cana 4, Mavraj 7, Agolli 6; Kukeli 6; Roshi 7, Abrashi 6, Xhaka 7, Lenjani 7; Sadiku 7. Subs: Kace 6, Cikalleshi 6, Gashi n/a.

KEY MOMENTS

5' - GOAL! ALBANIA 0-1 SWITZERLAND. A Swiss corner from the right is met by Fabian Schar who heads into an empty net after Berisha had come off his line and got nowhere near it.

26' - ALBANIA CHANCE! A nice move from Albania sees Odise Roshi tee up Taulant Xhaka who flashes just wide of the upright before beating the ground in frustration.

31' - ALBANIA CHANCE! Armando Sadiku races onto a delightful pass in behind from the right flank but can't beat Sommer who manages to come out on top in the one-to-one.

37'- RED CARD! Albania's captain, Lorik Cana is sent off for a second yellow card. He handles the ball after slipping which denies Seferovic a clear run at goal.

38' - WOODWORK! Dzemaili steps up and fires the resulting free kick from 20 yards against the right hand post.

67' - SWITZERLAND CHANCE! Seferovic is put clear by Embolo but the Swiss forward is thwarted by Berisha who rushes off his line to produce a superb block in the one-on-one.

77' - ALBANIA CHANCE! Hysaj feeds a lovely pass into the right of the area for Sadiku who holds of his man but drills wide of the near post. Big chance gone for the Albanians!

87' - ALBANIA CHANCE! Gashi beats the offside trap and is clear on Sommer but sees his high effort brilliantly tipped away by the keeper.

KEY STATS

Xherdan Shaqiri has had a hand in 9 goals in his last 8 competitive games.

Albania remain winless in seven matches against Switzerland: D1-L6.

Switzerland win their second match at the European Championship (W2-D2-L6).

No team has ever won a EURO match after receiving a first-half red card (penalty shoot-outs counted as a draw). Only Italy progressed in the knock out phase after a first-half red card in 2000 against Netherlands (0-0, 3-1 on penalties).

MATCH IN A TWEET

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