Albania 0 Spain 1: Ferran Torres scores early winner as second-string Spaniards cruise into last 16 with maximum points

Albania 0 Spain 1: Ferran Torres scores early winner as second-string Spaniards cruise into last 16 with maximum points

SADLY for Sylvinho, he was right.

The Albania boss had suggested Spain’s second team are good enough to win Euro 2024.

GettyFerran Torres scored a first half winner[/caption]

Albania crash out of the Euros after failing to pick up a winAP

AFPSpain have won three games out of three without conceding[/caption]

Ferran Torres exquisitely finishes off a superb Spanish move and they lead in Dusseldorf! #BBCEuros #Euro2024 #ESPALB pic.twitter.com/6DGfiJmZii

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 24, 2024

But what will really worry the rest is that the first choice 11 is a street ahead of the reserves.

And they are the ones who will play the rest of the tournament.

In Dusseldorf, Luis de la Fuente’s shadow side clipped the Eagles’ wings to send Albanian home and make it three wins out of three.

A brilliant finish by former Manchester City striker Ferran Torres, caressing the ball off the upright with his left peg, proved decisive as Albania’s adventure ended amid the non-stop bedlam of their hordes of fans.

Yet Spain now enter the knock-out stage on cruise control, rested and ready.

It is hard to make a case for anyone to stop them.

Last night Albania had the flares. And the noise and the smoke.

But Spain had the flair and were never going to choke.

Spain dominated the ball and Albania struggled to create chances

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For 10 minutes, Spain let Sylvinho’s men believe. Then they simply upped the gears.

Brentford keeper Thomas Strakosha – two Prem appearances for the Bees last term – made a scrambling save to deny Mikel Merino’s header from Spain’s first proper move, sparked by Dani Olmo.

Albania boss Sylvinho claimed Spain’s second team is good enough to win the EurosReuters

There was nothing he could do about their second, though.

Aymeric Laporte, the only surviving starter from the Italy win, threaded in to playmaker Olmo, whose own pass inside left back Mario Mitaj was as perfect as the first-time, inside of the boot stroke in off the far post by Torres.

A goal of beauty, from a beautiful team.

Between those two attacks, Joselu – tipped to be the next on the Saudi gravy train – had flicked a header just too high.

Spain’s control was evident. They were happy with all they needed to make it comfortable, the Albanians offering heart and endeavour but nowhere near the same quality.

The reality of the action did not dampen the enthusiasm of the Albanian fans who were hanging off the rafters. They had plenty to shout about, at least in their heads.

Yet it all felt inevitable, a matter of time before Spain raised the level once more to get the second.

Twice in a minute, Olmo thought he was going to score it.

First it required a super block from Albania skipper Berat Djimsiti to stop him from close range, before he clipped wide when Strakosha punched the resulting corner straight to the Leipzig man.

Arsenal keeper David Raya was enjoying the easiest of nights, although almost embarrassed himself when he thumped a clearance into Laporte, grateful the ball ballooned back into his hands.

Albania pressured late on but it was not enough

Torress may have done enough to win a first-team place

And he was extended on the break, diving to his left to parry Kristjian Asllani’s 20-yarder.

Even so, Spain did not seem concerned and Joselu was inches away from netting at the start of the second period with an acrobatic hook from the latest in a string of crosses by left-back Alejandro Grimaldo.

Albania were starting to rock, but responded to the news of Luka Modric’s goal in Leipzig.

On came Chelsea’s Slough-born and raised Armando Broja, so nearly transforming the mood with his first proper touch from a quick free-kick, only for Reya to claw the ball away.

They kept on trying, too, even as the sands of time slipped away, finally causing some anxiety.

Not enough and Olmo and substitute Alvaro Morata had the chances to put the game to bed while there were some glimpses of majesty from Lermine Yamal after the teenager was introduced.

We will certainly see more of him in the next few weeks. And a lot more of Spain.

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