Fabian Schar's 5th minute header from a Xherdan Shaqiri corner, the earliest goal in European Championship history, was enough for Switzerland to eke out a 1-0 victory over 10 men Albania.
Albania had center back Lorik Cana sent off for a second yellow in the 37th minute after an intentional handball at the edge of the penalty area.
This was a match largely defined by a lack of quality from both sides in front of goal with both failing to convert a slew of 1 v. 1 chances against the opposition keeper. Albania striker Armando Sadiku had a 1 v. 1 saved by Swiss keeper Yann Sommer in the 31st minute after being played in behind by an excellent ball from right back Elseid Hysaj. In the 76th Sadiku got the wrong side of Swiss left back Ricardo Rodriguez but put his effort into the side netting from a tight angle. In the 87th the Albanian substitute Shkelzen Gashi got in behind the Switzerland back line but failed to convert his side's best chance of the match as his effort was again saved by Sommer.
At the other end Swiss striker Haris Seferovic twice failed to convert golden 1 v. 1 opportunities in the 15th and 67th minutes.
A more ruthless striker could have been the difference for both sides but these are two teams lacking quality in the #9 position. Albania scored just 7 goals in qualifying for the tournament finals, (they were given a 3-0 win over Serbia after that game was abandoned so finished with 10 goals credited to them) by far the lowest of any side in the tournament. Six of their players were tied as top scorer with one goal each.
For Switzerland, Seferovic has scored just 3 times in 13 league matches for Eintracht Frankfurt last season.
After a remarkable start, Switzerland put in a desperately disappointing performance. This is a side with a talented group of midfielders in Granit Xhaka, Blerim Dzemaili, Valon Behrami, Xerdan Shaqiri and Admir Mehmedi. After going up a man they should have been able to establish more control on this match and found the penetration needed to find a second goal and put the game to bed. Instead they looked slow in possession and short of ideas in the attacking third. A draw in their next match against Romania would almost certainly be enough to ensure qualification into the knockout stages but given the performance today that's hardly a guarantee. Switzerland have the talent to play better than they did today- they were unlucky to be knocked out by Argentina in the last World Cup- but they'll need to improve on this performance. The achilles of the side looks like it'll be the center back pairing of Johan Johan Djourou and Schar. Djourou was nervy throughout, nearly giving away possession on three separate occasions that could have led to Albania chances and failing to deal with basic long balls into the Albanian front men.
Albania will be bitterly disappointed they failed to get anything out of this match. They showed the organization that enabled them to concede just five goals in qualifying and created good enough chances to get at least a point. Their energy off the ball was excellent- they pressed Switzerland all over the pitch and even with 10 men didn't allow the opposition time on the ball to pick them apart. I think along with converting chances, one of the biggest concerns for them will be how they defend the area in front of the back four. Their midfield pressed high up the pitch but the two center backs maintained a deep position. This created a gap between defense and midfield that Swiss attacking midfielders could comfortably move into. We saw this in the 15th minute when Shaqiri was able to tuck inside between the lines from the right and collect the ball in loads of space to play Seferovic through on goal. The defeat means Albania will need to keep the score close against France in their next match then beat Romania in their final fixture to have any chance of qualifying as a top four third place side.