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Euro 2016: Early goal paves way for Swiss win against Albania

Switzerland were given a crucial advantage in the 36th minute when Cana was given a second yellow card for handball on the edge of the penalty area.

Asked afterwards if he thought it was a scrappy game, he said: 'No, I think that's just the way I play. "We will be mentally stronger after coming through this".

Fabien Schaer scored the only goal with a powerful header in the fifth minute of the tetchy affair in Lens. But Albania had already seen Armando Sadiku thwarted by Sommer and, aided by some less than clinical finishing from the Switzerland striker Haris Seferovic, clung on in the second half despite their numerical disadvantage.

Switzerland, who next play Romania on Wednesday, also had their chances but desperate defence and poor finishing meant there were no more goals. He wasn't part of the Swiss squad that won the Under-17 World Cup seven years ago, and even started studying for a career in banking. The captain handled the ball to deny Switzerland a goalscoring opportunity, 14 minutes after being punished by referee Carlos Velasco Carballo for a late tackle on Blerim Dzemaili.

There, beyond the whites of Yann Sommer's eyes, was his place in history, the moment when everything crystallised and the emotional maelstrom around Albania's first match at a major tournament melted into something joyful, rational.

"We nearly took two steps back and slowed down, we weren't the side we had been in the first 20 minutes". Gashi's miss deprived the scene-setters - and there had been many - of a finale too good to be true and eventually the more practiced tournament side had simply proved better at both ends of the pitch.

Five of Switzerland's starting XI were either from Kosovar-Albanian families or of Albanian extraction, and four of Albania's side were born or brought up in Switzerland. "We had to change our approach".

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"In the second half we had these incredible chances which we should have used better, but matches are determined by fine margins".

A full three points for the Alpine side, and only their second ever win in the European Championships.

"We didn't play as I expected in the first 20 minutes and everything is more hard when you concede".

The Albanian underdogs were continually scrambling to get back into the game while Switzerland, who now occupy top two spots with France, never took firm control.

Switzerland's Granit Xhaka, left, hugs his brother, Albania's Taulant Xhaka, at the end of the Euro 2016 Group A soccer match between Albania and Switzerland, at the Bollaert stadium in Lens, France, Saturday, June 11, 2016.

Fabian Schaer (right) of Switzerland leaps in the air to celebrate his match-winning goal against Albania at Euro 2016.

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