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Albania v France Live Commentary, 18/11/2019

FT
0 - 2
ALB
FRA
C. Tolisso (8)
A. Griezmann (31)
Air Albania Stadium

Commentary

Albania - as we knew before kick off - miss out on the European Championships after failing to qualify - but they can take some positives from worrying France in the second 45. France though, will be at the tournament next year and they'll be looking to build upon a successful qualifying campaign and add another trophy to the World Cup they won in 2018.
Well, France secure top spot in Group H with a comfortable win over Albania. The away side started well and extinguished any nerves by taking the lead early on through Tolisso's cushioned header. Albania offered little in the first period and France quickly doubled their advantage when Griezmann tapped in after brilliant work from Dubois to race to his opposite wing and drill in a well-placed cross. The hosts were much improved in the second half and leaned on the work of Hysaj to try and find a way back into the game. Amidst missed chances from Djimsiti and Balaj though, they were never able to pull a goal back. France could have extended their lead after Giroud was guilty of squandering a plethora of strong opportunities, but the away side will nevertheless be pleased with an assured victory.
90' + 3' FULL TIME: Albania 0-2 France
90' + 2' Tolisso is down injured after a hefty challenge from Bare, but after a small delay it seems as though he'll be able to carry on for the rest of this one.
90' Three minutes of stoppage time are added.
B. Pavard
L. Dubois
France
88' Dubois makes way after a dominant display on the right flank for the more conservative Pavard.
87' Bare attempts a raking long-range pass out towards Trashi but Digne anticipates the danger and surges across to clear it away from harm.
N. Fekir
W. Ben Yedder
France
85' Ben Yedder is replaced by Fekir up top for France.
84' Albania are still committing men forward though and their latest foray ends with Memushaj almost latching onto a throughball from Gjasula.
L. Trashi
E. Hysaj
Albania
82' Hysaj is replaced by Trashi after an energetic performance for the hosts.
81' Albania look like they're starting to tire now. After throwing everything at France in the opening moments of the half they've struggled to sustain their pace and barring a surprising turn of events the away side should keep a clean sheet.
79' Dubois attempts a clever pass for Sissoko to rush into the box with but Berisha's alert to the danger and races out to see off the danger.
77' Albania win a free-kick in a prime central area just outside the box, however, Memushaj fails to capitalise on the opportunity, as his effort from the set-piece slams tamely into the wall.
L. Digne
B. Mendy
France
75' Mendy is replaced by Digne at left wing-back as France tighten up at the back with less than 20 minutes to go.
73' Albania have managed six shots inside the box so far, but none of these have hit the target - if this remains 2-0 the hosts will be ruing their profligacy in front of goal.
71' Giroud misses another big chance! France counter-attack and Albania are badly outnumbered, allowing Griezmann to slide Giroud through on goal with no defender in sight. Grioud takes a touch, before curling an effort from just 18 yards that strikes the inside of the post before bouncing narrowly away from goal! He's been desperately unlucky today!
69' Griezmann swings in another corner but this time Albania confidently head the delivery away.
67' France spread the play out wide to Dubois again and he rips a shot at goal from a tight angle that almost surprises Berisha, but the goalkeeper just manages to push it past the near post.
65' Hysaj is down after colliding with Kimpembe but he waves away the medical staff and it looks like he'll continue.
63' Giroud goes close again! Ben Yedder scoops an inventive dink towards Giroud at an angle just inside the box and the striker lashes a half-volley across goal that Berisha has to scramble to palm away from harm! That would have been quite some goal!
61' Lenglet's had to recieve treatment following that stoic block, but he should be okay to continue.
60' Balaj receives a pass inside the box and attempts a thunderous shot at goal but Lenglet is there to absorb the effort with a well-timed tackle.
58' Albania are playing everything through their talisman, Hysaj, at the moment and his latest throughball almost plays Balaj through on goal but it's just overhit.
56' Griezmann has been at his creative best today and almost collected a second assist with that Giroud opportunity. This has been a running theme too; he has seven assists in qualifying so far - more than any other player.
54' Memushaj connects with a long diagonal into the box and knocks it down for Bare who attempts an acrobatic volley from a tight angle but Kimpembe is there to block the shot and clear.
52' Brilliant save from Berisha! Griezmann plays a cute reverse pass through to Giroud and with just the goalkeeper to beat the striker places a shot towards the top corner that Berisha instinctively palms away from harm!
50' Albania have started the second period with intent and they're piling the pressure on France! The latest attack features the busy Hysaj making his way into the box again, before cutting it back to Manaj who has an effort blocked by Lenglet.
48' Albania almost get one back! Hysaj battles his way to the byline after picking up a loose ball from a free-kick and he drills a low cross in that Djimsiti stretches to poke wide from five yards!
O. Roshi
E. Lenjani
Albania
46' Lenjani is replaced by Roshi on the left flank.
L. Memushaj
K. Qose
Albania
46' Qose makes way for Memushaj in midfield.
46' France get the second 45 underway.
Looking ahead, Albania have had some exciting moments when they've tried to exploit the narrow French defence, but it'll take an inspiring comeback to overhaul the away side's lead in the second half.
Well, France look all set to top Group H after taking a commanding lead heading into the break. The away side opened the scoring through Tolisso's header and have been relatively untroubled at the other end. Albania briefly threatened to equalise when Hysaj wasted a glorious opening after finding himself clean through but that was as far as the hosts threatened. As the half wore on France began to control the game more and they made their strength count when Dubois set Griezmann up for a simple tap in to make it 2-0 at the interval.
45' + 1' HALF TIME: Albania 0-2 France
45' One minute of stoppage time has been added.
43' The second goal has sapped a lot of energy out of the game. This is the first ever game at the Air Albania Stadium for the hosts and the excitement seemed to be spurring them on, however France have done an excellent job of remaining composed and slowly calming the crowd down.
41' France break away again and this time Ben Yedder attempts a threaded throughball to Sissoko, but Berisha is alert and rushes out to claim the pass before the midfielder can make contact.
39' Lenglet should make it three! Griezmann whips in a corner from the left and Lenglet meets it under no pressure from six yards, but he wastefully powers his header over the bar!
37' Kimpembe encroaches into the Albania half with little resistance and he promptly slams a shot from 35 yards that sails high and wide.
35' Balaj finds some more joy running into the right-back area and he clips in a cross towards the back post where Lenjani collects possession, however, both Varane and Lenglet hurry across to repel the danger.
33' Well, Albania will be feeling slightly aggrieved to find themselves facing a two-goal deficit. They've limited France to just two shots in total across the opening 30 minutes, but unfortunately for them both efforts have been in great positions.
L. Dubois
Assist
France
31' I'm not sure if Didier Deschamps had planned for Dubois to have quite such a free role, but the right wing-back founds himself in space to the left of the box and made it count with a perfectly weighted cross for Griezmann!
A. Griezmann
Goal
France
31' FRANCE GET A SECOND! 2-0! Dubois roams adventurously into the box from the right flank, before picking up a loose ball on the left and drilling a low cross for Griezmann to tap in from close range! No one picked up Griezmann's late run there!
28' Qose eventually dinks the free-kick into the box where Veseli acrobatically volleys it across goal, but Varane is there to hack the danger away.
C. Lenglet
Yellow Card
France
26' Manaj hassles Varane into misplacing a pass and the Albanian striker beats Lenglet to the ball, who then catches him with a late challenge - a deserved yellow card is shown.
24' Griezmann bends in another worrisome free-kick for Albania, but this time Berisha confidently rises above Varane to claim the delivery.
22' Hysaj wastes a huge opening! Bare collects an errant pass from Tolisso in his own half, before driving forwards and setting Hysaj through on goal down the right, but the full-back's touch is woefully heavy and he's eventually driven wide before crossing straight into Kimpembe!
E. Hysaj
Yellow Card
Albania
20' Ben Yedder and Tolisso counter after a poor Albanian free-kick, but Hysaj races across to cynically halt the move on the halfway line and earn a yellow card.
18' After 21 appearances, the earlier header was Tolisso's first goal for France! It was certainly a long wait, but the midfielder will be thrilled to have opened the scoring tonight.
16' Dubois charges into space down the right and stands up a cross to the back post where Veseli desperately fends off the danger.
14' Albania seem to be clipping passes down the line at every opportunity so far. France's back three looks fairly narrow, so there's plenty of opportunity for the two strikers to gather possession on the touchline. The latest long ball seems to have set Balaj clean through, but he's called back for an offside.
12' Balaj hassles Kimpembe after a looping long ball was hit into the channel, but the French defender just about manages to retain possession.
10' Well, Albania have a lot of work to do now. Their best chance was to frustrate France and eventually hit the away side on the break, but after finding themselves behind early on, they'll need to commit more men forward the longer the scoreline remains the same.
A. Griezmann
Assist
France
8' Griezmann flighted in a dangerous delivery that was placed in the perfect area to produce uncertainty. It was too far out for Berisha to claim, but also close enough for Tolisso to simply nod past the goalkeeper.
C. Tolisso
Goal
France
8' FRANCE TAKE THE LEAD! 1-0! Mendy is fouled out wide on the left and Griezmann swings the resulting set-piece into the six-yard-box where Tolisso is on hand to nudge a scruffy header beyond Berisha and into the bottom corner!
7' Despite having already qualified, France do need a win to secure top spot in Group H today. Turkey are just two points behind and face Andorra in their last fixture, so any slip up by the away side will most likely be punished.
5' France elegantly switch the play from one wing-back to the other, as Mendy picks out Dubois on the right flank. However, Dubois is shut down quickly and his cross is blocked away by Veseli for a throw-in.
4' France - after experiencing that early scare - roll passes around the back three in an attempt to settle into the game and silence the raucous home support.
2' Albania almost take the lead immediately! Manaj forces Varane into conceding a throw-in deep inside the France half, and the resulting delivery is hurled far into the box where Mandanda lets it bounce before just rising above Balaj to claim the dangerous loose ball!
1' Albania get the first half underway.
The players are emerging from the tunnel and kick off is just seconds away!
France will certainly be expecting to pick up the win that ensures they end up winning Group H today and recent history will add to the sense of anticipation too: they’ve won five of their last six qualifiers and beat Albania 4-1 in the return fixture.
Albania make seven changes from the side that endured a frustrating draw with Andorra, but more importantly, they completely switch up their shape; the hosts move from a 3-1-4-2 into a more compact 4-3-1-2 formation. France, similarly, change their formation; they move from a 4-2-3-1 into an experimental 3-4-1-2. They also make five changes, with Mbappe and Kante the most notable players to drop out of the starting lineup.
SUBS: N'Golo Kante, Kurt Zouma, Thomas Lemar, Tanguy Ndombele, Matteo Guendouzi, Alphonse Areola, Kylian Mbappe, Lucas Digne, Benjamin Pavard, Nabil Fekir, Mike Maignan.
FRANCE (3-4-1-2): Steve Mandanda; Presnel Kimpembe, Raphael Varane, Clement Lenglet; Leo Dubois, Corentin Tolisso, Moussa Sissoko, Benjamin Mendy, Antoine Griezmann; Olivier Giroud, Wissam Ben Yedder.
SUBS: Hysen Memolla, Alban Hoxha, Ledian Memushaj, Ylber Ramadani, Lorenc Trashi, Taulant Seferi, Thomas Strakosha, Ardian Ismajli, Emanuele Ndoj, Odise Roshi, Myrto Uzuni, Enea Mihaj.
ALBANIA (4-3-1-2): Etrit Berisha; Elseid Hysaj, Berat Djimsiti, Kastriot Dermaku, Frederic Veseli; Keidi Bare, Klaus Gjasula, Ermir Lenjani, Krisit Qose; Rey Manaj, Bekim Balaj.
Hello and welcome to live commentary of this European Championship Qualifying Group H fixture between Albania and France. The hosts enter this one with no chance of qualifying for the tournament next year, with a promising tally of 13 points only being good enough for fourth place in the table. France, meanwhile, have already sealed their spot and lead the group, after edging past Moldova 2-1 last time out. With qualification wrapped up this could be an exciting opportunity for fringe players to make an impression in a demanding away match.