LISBON, Sept 8, (RTRS): Albania handed demoralised Portugal one of their most embarrassing international defeats when a spectacular volley by Bekim Balaj gave the rank outsiders a 1-0 away win in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier. The defeat, Portugal’s first at home in a competitive international since they lost to Denmark six years ago, was the last thing Portugal coach Paulo Bento needed after clinging to his job despite his side’s dismal World Cup display, when they went out in the group stage. Portugal, missing Cristiano Ronaldo over fitness concerns for the Group I match, were again lacklustre in attack, suggesting they lack any sort of alternative to the Real Madrid forward.
Albania, who have never qualified for a major tournament, defended with five across the back line and another four in front of that. It was certainly not sophisticated but it was too much for Portugal’s unimaginative midfield and attack to break down. Albania scored from their only shot on target in the 52nd minute when Odise Roshi crossed from the near the corner flag into the centre of the penalty area. Balaj, running away from the goal, met it with a first-time shot on the turn, the 23-year-old Slavia Prague forward hooking it brilliantly past a bemused Rui Patricio from near the penalty spot.