Brought to you by

Key Events

80'
Íñigo Martínez
Sergio Ramos
78'
Isco
Iniesta
75'
J. Hyka
T. Xhaka
70'
M. Mavraj
Yellow Card
68'
M. Basha
L. Memushaj
63'
Nacho Monreal
Assist
63'
Nolito
Goal
60'
Nolito
Vitolo
55'
David Silva
Assist
55'
Diego Costa
Goal
46'
N. Aliji
E. Lenjani
45' + 1'
A. Agolli
Yellow Card
25'
Thiago Alcântara
Yellow Card
3
2
3
1

Stats

Possession
% %
1
4
Shots Off Target
Shots On Target 0 6
Total Passes 287 1002

Commentary

The referee blows his whistle for the final time and confirms that all three points will be heading back to Spain. The visitors were made to work hard by Albania but were arguably the better of the two sides, particularly once Costa had fired them into the lead. From then onwards it was relatively plain-sailing for them, as they were easily able to hold on to possession and run rings around an Albania side that looked increasingly deflated and struggled to adapt to the changing circumstances.
FULL-TIME: ALBANIA 0-2 SPAIN
90' + 3' Spain continue to hold on to possession inside the Albania half of the pitch as they run rings round the home side, who performed brilliantly during the first half only to lose their concentration after the break. With mere seconds left to play, it looks as if Spain are heading to the top of Group G.
90' + 2' Busquets is pushed to the ground by Balaj, and once again Spain are awarded a free-kick deep inside the Albania half of the pitch. This time they decide to take it short, and, with just a couple of minutes left to go, they quickly work the ball back to Ramos on the halfway line. They seem content to hold on to possession as they attempt to run down the clock.
90' The fourth official has indicated that there will be three minutes of added time.
88' Nolito darts towards the edge of the Albania penalty area before being upended by Djimsiti, and Spain are awarded a free-kick in a very dangerous position just outside of the box. Silva steps up and fires a curling shot from the set-piece, but it's slightly overhit and sails comfortably over the top of the crossbar.
86' A low cross is thumped into the penalty area, but it's just about dealt with by the Albania defence, resulting in a corner for Spain over on the left flank. It's taken short and worked over to Thiago, but the midfielder is unable to penetrate the box due to a great sliding tackle from Mavraj at the vital moment.
84' Spain patiently work the ball around midway inside the Albania half of the pitch before Busquets tries to find Nolito, but the latter is beaten to the ball by Mavraj before he fouls the Albania defender, resulting in a free-kick for the home side.
82' Roshi, who has arguably been Albania's hardest working player this evening, darts down the right wing and cuts into the Spain penalty area as he tries to find a late goal for his side, but he's quickly closed down by a sea of white shirts and ends up finding his route to goal blocked.
Íñigo Martínez
Sergio Ramos
Spain
80' Ramos will play no further part in the game, and he gingerly walks off the pitch to be replaced by Martinez for the final 10 minutes of the game.
79' A bouncing low cross from Silva penetrates the Albania penalty area and almost finds Thiago over on the right-hand side, but Hyka beats the midfielder to the ball before poking the ball out for a corner. Ramos rises high and tries to meet the ball in the air, but he seems to land awkwardly and looks to be in a lot of pain.
Isco
Iniesta
Spain
78' Iniesta makes way for Isco in a late change for Spain.
76' Albania push forward once again as they try to find a way back into the game, but this time it's a deep, looping cross from Basha that fails to pick out a red shirt in front of goal before Ramos chests the ball into the safe hands of De Gea, who has had very little to do tonight.
J. Hyka
T. Xhaka
Albania
75' Albania have made their final substitution of the evening, with Hyka coming on to take the place of Xhaka.
74' Roshi pushes forward on a rare foray into the Spain half of the pitch before being pushed over by Iniesta, resulting in a free-kick for Albania. It's taken short and worked over to Agolli, where the captain takes on Ramos before winning his side a throw-in. It's sent to Lila, but the midfielder is unable to whip a low cross into the penalty area and Spain easily manage to deal with the danger.
72' It's all Spain at the moment as they patiently hold on to the ball inside the Albania half of the pitch. They don't look in any great rush to push too far forward, but they're doing well to keep the home side camped firmly inside their own half of the pitch.
M. Mavraj
Yellow Card
Albania
70' Mavraj charges into Costa and pushes the striker to the ground, resulting in a yellow card for the defender and a free-kick for Spain in an advantageous position 30 yards away from the Albania goal. Koke whips a good cross into the box that finds Ramos, but the defender's headed effort is easily stopped by Berisha.
M. Basha
L. Memushaj
Albania
68' Albania have made their second alteration of the game, with Memushaj making way for Basha.
67' Lovely one-touch passing from Spain almost sets up Costa with a great opportunity to make it 3-0, but just as the striker's about to shoot he's dispossessed by a great sliding tackle from Djimsiti, who doesn't look at all happy with the rest of his defenders.
65' A Spain attacking move comes to an end and Albania try to hit them on a swift counter-attack, but they're unable to do so quickly enough and Spain are easily able to deal with the danger before pushing forward on yet another attack.
Nacho Monreal
Assist
Spain
63' It was Monreal who set up Nolito over on the left wing, but questions have to be asked of the Albania defence, who defended brilliantly in the first half but seemed to fall asleep in the build-up to the goal.
Nolito
Goal
Spain
63' GOAL! It's 2-0! Nolito, who has looked bright since coming on, skips past a tired tackle from Hysaj on the left-hand side of the Albania box and then side-foots a lovely low shot past Berisha and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net to double Spain's lead.
62' It's all Spain at the moment as they continue putting pressure on the home side. Albania look extremely downtrodden after conceding the goal, and they're starting to look increasingly open at the back whenver the visitors push forward.
Nolito
Vitolo
Spain
60' Spain have made their first change of the night, with Vitolo making way for Nolito.
59' Spain are desperately pushing forward as they try to find a second goal that, judging by how the game has gone thus far, all but confirm the victory. They work the ball around nicely on the edge of the penalty area before Silva unleashes a curling shot, but it deflects off a red shirt and out for a corner.
57' Monreal goes down inside the penalty area, but nothing is given! The full-back breaks into the left-hand side of the box and takes on Djimsiti before going down under a challenge from the Albania defender, but, despite it looking rather clumsy, the referee tells him to get back to his feet.
David Silva
Assist
Spain
55' Silva selflessly set up Costa instead of shooting himself, but that goal was all due to Berisha's clearance, which was awfully hit and made life far too easy for the visitors.
Diego Costa
Goal
Spain
55' GOAL! Spain have finally taken the lead! An awful attempted clearance from Berisha is sent straight to Vitolo, who immediately tees up Silva. The Manchester City midfielder breaks into the penalty area and goes one-on-one with the goalkeeper before poking a pass over to Costa, who is then easily able to tap the ball into the back of an empty net.
54' Another half-hearted Spain attacking move comes to an end, and Albania immediately hit them on a rare counter. Aliji flies down the left wing and beats his marker before taking on Busquets, but the midfielder darts across the pitch before dispossessing the substitute with an excellent sliding tackle.
53' Spain patiently pass the ball from one flank to the other as they desperately try to find a way through on goal. Koke eventually picks up possession over on the left wing before swinging a cross into the box, but it's sent too near to Berisha and the goalkeeper is easily able to cut out the danger with a smart save.
51' Spain move the ball around beautifully before the ball falls to Silva, who is in a good position over on the right-hand side of the Albania box. He immediately tries to fire a low cross into the path of Costa, but he doesn't hit the ball with enough conviction and it doesn't manage to find the striker.
49' A dangerous long pass is thumped towards the Albania goal, where Hysaj beats Costa in the air before heading the ball behind for a corner. The set-piece is curled into the middle of the box and this time finds Pique, but the defender's headed effort is easily stopped by Berisha.
47' Lila drags back Iniesta as the two battle for the ball down the left wing, resulting in a free-kick for Spain in an advantageous position. Silva steps up and tries to curl a cross into the Albania penalty area, but it's poorly hit and fails to beat the first man.
N. Aliji
E. Lenjani
Albania
46' Albania have made one substitution during the half-time break, with Lenjani, who picked up a nasty cut to the head at the end of the first half, making way for Aliji.
46' And we're underway once again!
The two teams are making their way back out on to the pitch ahead of the start of the second half.
It's been an incredibly frustrating first half for Spain, who have bossed possession throughout but, thanks to strong defending from the home side, done little with it. Albania have kept all 11 players camped inside their own half of the pitch for most of the game, and so far their compact and well-organised defensive line has kept at bay a Spain side that seem slightly bereft of ideas in front of goal.
HALF-TIME: ALBANIA 0-0 SPAIN
45' + 2' Spain push forward on one last attacking move as boos and whistles ring around them, but, despite doing well to penetrate the penalty area, Iniesta is unable to get a shot away after being dispossessed by a wonderful sliding tackle from Hysaj at the vital moment.
A. Agolli
Yellow Card
Albania
45' + 1' A high ball is flung into the Albania box, where several white shirts are waiting, but the home side once again do well to deal with the danger before Lenjani receives a knock to the head whilst battling in the air with Vitolo. Agolli isn't at all happy with the Spain winger and immediately screams to the referee for a free-kick, but the man in charge isn't interested and instead shows the Albania captain a yellow card for dissent.
45' The fourth official has indicated that there will be just one minute of added time.
45' Ball after ball is thumped into the middle of the Albania penalty area, but the home side are just about able to deal with each of them. The ball then rolls out to Iniesta, and once again the midfielder is fouled and wins his side a free-kick.
44' Iniesta is caught by Agolli as the two battle for the ball, and Spain are awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position as a result. It's whipped over to the far post, where Pique is waiting, but Lila is just about able to get a head on the ball to send it out for a corner that the home side do well to deal with.
43' A spell of quick, short passing from Spain ends with Ramos, who then chips a cross into the middle of the penalty area that, once again, Djimsiti is able to head away from danger. The visitors come back once again, however, before another Ramos cross is cleared only as far as Thiago, but the midfielder's thumping low shot fails to find its way through the sea of red shirts camped in front of him.
41' Vital interception by Djimsiti! Monreal flies into the left-hand side of the Albania penalty area before firing a great low pass across the face of goal, but Djimsiti sticks out a foot and just about manages to beat Silva to the ball at the near post.
40' Costa shows good strength in the middle of the pitch to hold off Xhaka before winning his side a free-kick. It's sent short and worked over to Koke deep down the left wing, but he's unable to find a way past Roshi and ends up losing out to Albania winger on the edge of the box.
38' Djimsiti tries to play out from the back but is immediately put under pressure by a group of white shirts and loses the ball instantaneously. Koke tries to hit the hosts with a dangerous cross from the left wing which is hit towards Vitolo, but Berisha is there to cut out the danger at the near post.
36' Lenjani breaks down the left wing on a rare foray into the Spain half of the pitch before swinging a cross over to the right-hand side of the penalty area. It finds Roshi, who is in a pocket of space, and the winger immediately unleashes a bouncing half-volley that De Gea is able to watch fly straight into the side-netting.
35' Another good run forward from a Spain play almost causes problems for Albania. This time it's Vitolo who charges into the penalty area as he tries to latch on to a pass foward from Koke, but it's slightly overhit by the Atletico Madrid midfielder and can only find the hands of Berisha.
33' Great chance for Costa! Ramos peels off to the right wing and sends a brilliant curling cross right into the heart of the penalty area. Costa darts towards the goal and is presented with a wonderful opportunity to put Spain 1-0 up, but he ends up missing the ball completely. He really should have done better with that!
32' Another chipped pass is sent over the top of the Albania defence and into the penalty area, where, this time, it reaches Costa, but the striker's run forward was slightly mistimed and as soon as he makes contact with the ball the linesman's flag is raised for offside.
31' Busquets falls asleep on the ball and loses out to Balaj, who immediately breaks forward on a quick counter-attack. He's all alone and has to try and take on a sea of white shirts, but he's quickly closed down by Thiago and loses out to the midfielder before he can reach the Spain box.
29' Thiago picks up the ball and immediately lifts a lovely chipped pass into the middle of the Albania penalty area. Koke darts towards goal and tries his best to latch on to it, but he's unable to do so due to strong defending from Memushaj.
27' Roshi slips down the right flank and finds a pocket of space before swinging a dangerous cross into the penalty area and towards Balaj, but Pique is there to clear the danger before the ball can find the striker in front of goal.
Thiago Alcântara
Yellow Card
Spain
25' A lovely passing move from Spain almost sets up Iniesta with a great chance to shoot, but the midfielder is unable to beat the wall of red shirts in front of him and Albania survive once again. Hysaj then breaks out of the penalty area and tries to kick-start a quick counter-attack, but he's immediately tripped over by Thiago, resulting in a free-kick for the home side and a yellow card for the Spain midfielder.
24' The visitors come back once again, this time down the right flank, before winning themselves a corner. Koke steps up and sends a cross right into the middle of the penalty area, where it's unconvincingly dealt with by Albania. The ball then ends up looping over to Pique on the left-hand side of the box, but the defender is unable to control it and gives away possession before he can shoot.
22' Spain keep dominating possession before Pique sends another dangerous cross into the heart of the Albania penalty area, but, once again, the home side have enough bodies back to deal with the danger and thump the ball back towards the halfway line.
20' Thiago picks out Busquets, who is left in far too much space in the middle of the pitch. The midfielder breaks towards the Albania penalty area before chipping a lovely lofted pass right on to the head of Vitolo, who had made a good run into the box, but the winger is unable to pick out a teammate with his header and instead sends it looping into the hands of Berisha.
19' Spain try to take Albania by surprise by playing the corner out to the edge of the box, where Koke is waiting, but the midfielder is quickly closed down and ends up firing his first-time shot high and wide of the goal.
18' Wonderful save by Berisha! A beautiful passing move from Spain ends with Vitolo, who links up well with Thiago on the edge of the Albania penalty area before unleashing a great curling shot. It looks as if it's going to find the bottom right-hand corner of the net, but Berisha gets down well to tip the effort round the post and out for a corner.
16' Koke cuts inside from the right wing and beats his marker before chipping a deft cross into the penalty area, where both Costa and Silva are waiting, but neither are able to meet the ball in front of goal and, once again, Albania do well to deal with the danger.
14' Another determined Spain attacking move comes to an end and gifts Albania with the chance to hit their opponents on a quick counter-attack, but Roshi's lofted pass up towards Balaj is overhit and fails to find the striker inside the visitors' half of the pitch.
12' Wonderful play by Spain! The visitors run rings around the Albania defence with a beautiful attacking move involving Costa, Vitolo and Thiago. The latter breaks into the box and links up with the striker before poking a low shot towards goal, but Berisha does well to stop the effort from finding the back of the net.
11' A half-hearted Spain attack breaks down, allowing Albania to fly forward on a quick counter-attack down the left wing. Agolli breaks down the flank on a great run before swinging a dangerous cross into the middle of the penalty area, but Pique is just about able to beat Balaj to the ball at the vital moment.
9' After spending the opening stages of the game on the back foot, Albania are able to string together a series of good passes. They do well to patiently work their way into the Spain half of the pitch, but a poor pass from Lila brings a promising attacking move to a disappointing end and gives the ball back to the visitors.
7' What a chance for Pique! A wonderful lofted pass is thumped into the Albania box and towards the far post, where it finds Pique in a great position, but the centre-back ends up slicing his half-volleyed shot just wide of the goal before the referee awards a free-kick to the home side for a handball in the build-up.
5' Iniesta and Monreal link up deep down the left wing before the defender is caught late by Roshi, resulting in a free-kick for Spain in an advantageous position. The visitors decide to whip a dangerous cross into the middle of the penalty area, but it's well defended by Albania.
3' Spain patiently pass the ball around deep inside the Albania half of the pitch before Vitolo wins the visitors a throw-in over on the right wing. It's sent short and eventually worked over to Busquets, who's quickly closed down and fouled by Lila before he can move the ball over to a teammate.
1' And we're off! Spain get us underway, attacking from right to left.
The two sides are making their way out onto the pitch, with just a few minutes to go until kick-off.
Meanwhile, Spain boss Julen Lopetegui has made just two alterations to the team that featured against Italy in their last outing, with Dani Carvajal and Jordi Alba making way for Nacho Monreal and Thiago Alcantara as they switch to what looks to be a 3-4-3 formation.
Giovanni De Biasi has decided to make five changes to the Albania side that started the victory against Liechtenstein last week, with Ansi Agolli, Andi Lila, Taulant Xhaka, Ledian Memushaj and Ermir Lenjani all coming into the starting line-up to replace Naser Aliji, Burim Kukeli, Odise Roshi, Jahmir Hyka and Azdren Llullaku, respectively.
Spain substitutes: Reina, Rico, Martinez, Nacho, Carvajal, Roberto, Herrera, Isco, Nolito, Vazquez, Callejon, Morata.
Spain XI (3-4-3): De Gea; Ramos, Pique, Monreal; Koke, Busquets, Thiago, Iniesta; Vitolo, Costa, Silva.
Albania substitutes: Hoxha, Shehi, Veseli, Aliji, Grezda, Hyka, Kukeli, Basha, Abrashi, Cani, Llullaku, Cikalleshi.
Albania XI (4-3-3): Berisha; Hysaj, Djimsiti, Mavraj, Agolli; Lila, Xhaka, Memushaj; Roshi, Balaj, Lenjani.
There’s just over 15 minutes left to go until kick-off, so let’s have a look at how the two teams will be lining up this evening…
Albania and Spain have met one another on five previous occasions, with the Eagles never before managing to beat their illustrious opponents. The last meeting, way back in September 1993, ended in a 5-1 thrashing, but Albania have come a long way since then and could, if they play like they did in the summer, cause plenty of problems for their visitors.
This evening’s game will prove to be their first real test, however, as they must take on a Spain side that comfortably swatted aside Liechtenstein before going close to beating Italy on Thursday. A late Daniele De Rossi penalty denied them the opportunity to leave with all three points, making victory here tonight even more crucial.
Tonight’s hosts have clearly brought that good form into the qualifying stages for the next World Cup, as it’s they, not Spain or Italy, who lead the way in Group B after two games. Admittedly, their opening clashes came against minnows Macedonia and Liechtenstein, but they have nonetheless done well to avoid any slip ups thus far.
Despite narrowly missing out on making it to the knockout stage of the competition, Albania quietly impressed at Euro 2016 thanks to three positive performances in which they went close to picking up points against Switzerland and France before beating Romania in their final group stage game.
Good evening and welcome to our live text commentary of today’s World Cup 2018 qualifying game between Albania and Spain at the Loro Borici Stadium.
Comments ()