Holders Italy survive early scare to beat Albania

Reigning champions Italy came from behind to beat plucky Albania 2-1 in their Euro 2024 opener in Dortmund.

The holders – who beat England on penalties to win the tournament in 2021 – were stunned when Nedim Bajrami took advantage of a poor throw-in to put Sylvinho’s side in front with the fastest goal in European Championship history after just 23 seconds.

Albania looked to have the bit between their teeth after taking a shock lead but, 10 minutes later, Alessandro Bastoni lost his marker and guided a header across Thomas Strakosha into the net after Lorenzo Pellegrini’s cross to the back post.

Five minutes afterwards, Italy had turned the game on its head. A weak clearance from captain Elseid Hysaj dropped to Nicolo Barella, who struck a sweet second from the edge of the area.

It might have been more before the break had Strakosha not impressively pushed Davide Frattesi’s shot onto the post and then kept out Gianluca Scamacca’s effort with his feet.

What Albania lacked going forward, they made up for in restricting Italy’s attack, which meant a nervous end to the game.

However, they did have the last meaningful chance of the game, which almost brought a point as former Watford striker Rey Manaj brought down a long ball, nipped in behind and had a goal-bound shot that hit Gianluigi Donnarumma and went behind.

Stats: Story of the match

So far in Group B…