Adil Rami was man of the match as Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet both scored as they beat a very unfortunate Albania side. Albania looked set to get a point before France scored two 90th minute goals to dent Albania’s hopes of progressing past the group stage.
France went into the game knowing that a win would secure a top-two finish in the group before the decider against Switzerland. Albania, on the other hand, needed to at least get something out of the game and, with Romania picking up a point in the earlier game, the game was as important as ever.
The first real chance of the game came in the fourth minute when Ansi Agolli fouled Anthony Martial on the left-hand touchline. The ball was played in by Dimitri Payet and headed well over by Olivier Giroud.
Albania started off strong and aggressive, pressing well, but conceding several fouls with could eventually cost them. Their first half chance came when Andi Lila had a shot from outside the box, but struck it high and wide in the 14th minute.
France had several set piece attempts over the next few minutes, but Payet could not find that killer ball. Up the other end in the 24th minute, Elseid Hysaj played a low ball in which was nearly turned in by Armando Sadiku, but Hugo Lloris gratefully clutched the ball to his chest.
Payet and Giroud were linking up well at set pieces, with the latter heading over in the 36th minute from a well-crossed free-kick. Albania’s first major chance came at the end of the first half when Ledian Memushaj had a free-kick from 20 yards and placed the ball just over the crossbar in the 45th minute. Although it was comfortably over, Lloris was scrambling to his near post.
Half Time: France 0 – 0 Albania. Throughout the first half, Payet and Giroud were linking up well during set pieces, but couldn’t find the back of the net through the connection. Albania pressed well but gave away more fouls than they may have liked. Overall it was a very bland half of football made up of several half chances, hopefully, the second improves on this.
The second half started lively, in the 52nd minute, Elseid Hysaj with a wonderful ball in by deflecting off a mixture of Memushaj and Bacary Sagna before hitting the post. Albania really unlucky not to score. In the 63rd minute, France hit the post with a header by Giroud off a wonderful ball from Kingsley Coman.
Payet, who’s final ball was slightly off during the game, played the ball towards the back post, where substitute Paul Pogba was sliding in, but his shot was just over the bar. Only a couple minutes later, Sagna played a great ball in, but Antoine Griezmann couldn’t get his head on to the ball.
Albania looked like the were heading to a point, until Adil Rami played a wonderful ball in from the right and Antoine Griezmann headed the ball into the bottom right, 1-0 France.
Then six minutes later, France counter attack, allowing André-Pierre Gignac to play the ball to Dimitri Payet who dropped the shoulder and placed it into the bottom right-hand corner, 2-0 France.
Full Time: France 2 – 0 Albania
Albania have well and truly been robbed of a point, they deserved it by the way they played throughout the game. France didn’t play up to their usual standards, but kept attacking and got the vital goal that changed the game in their favour.
Man of the Match: Adil Rami
I’ve given Adil Rami the man of the match because, not only did he get the assist for the Griezmann goal, he also played very well defensively. In a game where France didn’t play up to their best standard, he showed why he was brought into the squad and has been a quality replacement for the injured Raphaël Varane.
A look to the future: France have secured a top-two spot now and face Switzerland in a battle for the top spot in their final group game. Albania have a must win game against Romania to have any chance of making it to the last 16.
1. Lloris (6) – Didn’t have much to do all game.
3. Evra (7) – Played very well both defensively and offensively.
4. Rami (9) – MOTM
21. Koscielny (6)
19. Sagna (7) – Played just as well as Evra.
5. Kanté (6) – Booked.
14. Matuidi (6)
11. Martial (4) – Subbed off at half-time, played poorly throughout, deserved to be subbed.
20. Coman (6) – Subbed off midway through the second half, played well, but couldn’t create anything goal worthy.
8. Payet (7) – Didn’t perform as well as the previous game, his final ball was off. Got a late goal.
9. Giroud (5) – Subbed off, couldn’t take his chances.
15. Pogba (7) – Played very well off the bench.
7. Griezmann (6) – Got the winning goal, didn’t do much else.
10. Gignac (6) – Got the assist for Payet’s goal.
1. Berisha (6) – Couldn’t stop the goal, but deserved a clean sheet.
4. Hysaj (6)
18. Ajeti (8) – Albania’s best player of the night despite being subbed.
15. Mavraj (7)
7. Agolli (6)
13. Kukeli (4) – Booked, missed the vital game against Romania. Subbed off with 15 minutes left, had a poor game. Went off with an injury.
2. Lila (5) – Subbed off mid-way through the second half, didn’t make any real impact.
22. Abrashi (5) – Booked.
9. Memushaj (6)
3. Lenjani (6)
10. Sadiku (5) – Invisible throughout.
21. Roshi (6)
14. Xhaka (5) – Didn’t have enough time to make an impact.
6. Veseli (N/A)
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