Italy, the defending champion, defeated Albania 2-1 from a goal down

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Italy vs. Albania, match facts, After just 23 seconds, Albania took the lead thanks to an early mistake by the Azzurri, as Nedim Bajrami scored the fastest goal in the history of the European Championship.

But Alessandro Bastoni and Nicolò Barella scored twice in the next five minutes to completely change the tide of the match, and Italy managed to hang on for three crucial points in the “Group of Death.”

This squad has a ton of experience and knows how to hold a lead and finish a game when it matters most, even though their play is not reminiscent of a classic Italian squad.

Spain’s much more difficult task will come next when the two teams square off in a crucial match on Thursday. The victor is assured a spot in the knockout stages.

Federico Dimarco’s mishandled throw-in found Bajrami at his feet, setting up the forward to move the ball to his right and smash a shot at the near post, giving Italy’s night the worst possible start.

Italy vs. Albania
Italy vs. Albania (Barella celebrates with his teammates after scoring Italy’s second. Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

However, Italy equalized inside ten minutes due to shoddy defending, which allowed Bastoni to head home Lorenzo Pellegrini’s cross at the far post while fully unmarked.

The ball rattled inside the penalty area before Barella fired a clean shot past goalie Thomas Strakosha.

In the last moments, the Kuqezinjtë exerted significant pressure, and Italy was grateful to goalie Gianluigi Donnarumma for tipping away Rey Manaj’s attempt when the Albanian forward was through on goal.

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Albania, the second-lowest-ranked team in the competition, put on a stoic display in the second half. The players lined up in front of their supporters to take in the cheers on what was just their second time participating in a European Championship.

Credit: CNN