Much-changed Spain beats Albania 1-0 at Euro 2024 to finish perfect group stage

Mon, Jun 24, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Much-changed Spain beats Albania 1-0 at Euro 2024 to finish perfect group stage

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) - Spain changed almost its entire lineup and still kept up its victorious start to the European Championship with a 1-0 win over Albania, which was eliminated on Monday.

With his team already assured of winning Group B, coach Luis de la Fuente changed 10 of his starters and Spain won all three group games at a Euros for the first time since 2008, when it went on to win the tournament.

A 13th-minute goal from Ferran Torres and goalkeeper David Raya's stoppage-time save from Armando Broja ensured Spain completed the group stage without conceding a goal.

Italy was the second qualifier from Group B after drawing with Croatia 1-1.

Albania needed at least a draw to have any hope of qualifying for the knockout stages for the first time, even as one of the best third-place teams. The loss meant it placed last.

Albania's failure to beat Spain meant England, France and the Netherlands were all assured of qualifying for the knockout stages, regardless of what happens in their last group games.

All of those teams are on four points from two games and would qualify at least as one of the best third-place teams.

RELATED COVERAGE Italy advances at Euro 2024 after Zaccagni equalizer in injury time against Croatia Croatia star Luka Modric becomes the oldest goal-scorer at a European Championship Southgate says he is 'oblivious' of Lineker's four-letter criticism of England

Spain got the job done, but this 1-0 win was far less convincing than the victory by the same margin over Italy in its last game. Defender Aymeric Laporte was the only player to start both.

For much of the first half, Spain seemed on course for a big win, but Dani Olmo and Mikel Merino in particular missed good chances. Albania didn't record a shot until the 45th minute.

Albania finally started to put pressure on Spain midway through the second half. Forward Broja came off the bench and forced a good save from Raya.

De la Fuente responded by sending on forwards Alvaro Morata and Lamine Yamal off the bench as Spain started to waste time where possible. Broja tested Raya again in stoppage time as Spain held on.

Albania was roared on in Duesseldorf by a mostly Albanian crowd keen to see what could have been one of the all-time upsets at the Euros. However, Albania was without forward Mirlind Daku, who was suspended by UEFA on Sunday after joining supporters' nationalist chants with a megaphone following the 2-2 draw with Croatia on Wednesday.

Albania's soccer federation was fined over incidents at both of its first two games. It looks set to face yet more charges after fans lit flares at the Spain game and a supporter ran onto the field.

De la Fuente's changes kept right back Dani Carvajal and center back Robin le Normand - both one yellow card away from a ban - safe for the round of 16. Midfielder Rodri served a one-game suspension for two earlier bookings.

Spain will play its last-16 game on Sunday in Cologne against one of the third-place teams.

___

AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

"
Article Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved.
FiveStarSignups.com
RocSheridan.com