Albania 0 – 1 Spain

Spain eliminated Albania from Euro 2024 with a 1-0 victory that made it three wins from three in Group B.

Having already qualified as group winners, Luis de la Fuente made 10 changes to his starting line-up but the fluency remained as they took the lead early on through Barcelona forward Ferran Torres.

Spain, captained by 38-year-old Jesus Navas, had chances to extend their lead through the impressive Dani Olmo and veteran striker Joselu but the second goal never did come. They did not need it.

A consequence of this result is that England, with four points from two games, are now guaranteed to reach the knockout stages regardless of what happens in their game against Slovenia on Tuesday evening.

Albania did have opportunities of their own, Arsenal’s David Raya saving well from Kristjan Asllani and substitute Armando Broja. But Sylvinho’s side were at their limit trying to cope with Spain’s superior quality and their spirited tournament is over.

The only previous team to win every group game without conceding a goal at a European Championship are Italy three years ago and they went on to lift the trophy. With such strength in depth, a repeat of that feat cannot be ruled out.

Analysis: Spain’s depth to be key?

While Gareth Southgate looks set to stick with a similar line-up for England’s third and final group game at Euro 2024, still searching for that positive performance to take some serious belief into the knockout stages, his Spain counterpart was able to rotate.

Having already secured top spot in Group B thanks to two wins from two, his purring stars had to sit out the win against Albania from the start. That feels unlikely to disturb their rhythm with games coming so quickly, but it allowed others to shine.

Spain's Jesus Navas, center, duels for the ball with Albania's Rey Manaj
Spain’s Jesus Navas captained this second-string side that looked anything but

Torres scored the goal but there was lots to enjoy about Olmo’s performance, while the full-backs Navas and Alex Grimaldo were attacking threat. Mikel Merino showed his quality in midfield. Raya made several big saves. All will have gained confidence.

All can probably expect to be back on the bench when Spain return to action in the round of 16 but they will do so having had a taste of this tournament, ready to impact the game during the second half of that one if required. It might just make a difference.

Player of the match: Ferran Torres

Spain's Ferran Torres celebrates after scoring the opening goal during a Group B match between Albania and Spain at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Duesseldorf, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Spain’s Ferran Torres celebrates after scoring the only goal against Albania

Premier League audiences hardly knew Torres, leaving as he did so early into his second season as a Manchester City player, but his record for Spain is remarkable. The winner here was his 20th goal for the national team in only 44 senior appearances.

It was a beautiful finish too, curled into the far corner with his left foot after latching onto a delightful pass into the space by Olmo. Torres is a player who makes that run from out to in so well and it continues to bring him success in front of goal.

The competition in those wide areas is clear given how Lamine Yamal has wowed everyone with his displays in Germany. But Torres offered a reminder of his reliability and will expect more minutes before Spain’s Euro 2024 journey is over.

Stats: Story of the match

Group B final results…


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