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Group B winners Spain maintained their 100% record at Euro 2024, as Ferran Torres’ first-half strike proved enough to dump minnows Albania out of the tournament.

Sylvinho’s side came out of the blocks quickly, but La Roja kept tabs on them and after Mikel Merino had seen a strong header saved, they took the lead when Torres received Dani Olmo’s pass and curled into the bottom corner.

From then on, the three-time European Champions were cruising, although Merino and Torres wasted further chances to extend the lead, before Kristjan Asllani nearly equalised at the other end on the stroke of half-time with a fierce shot that was palmed to safety.

That gave Albania hope going into the break, and substitute Armando Broja forced a further fine stop out of David Raya, while Asllani dragged another fizzing strike just wide.

Indeed, The Eagles were impressive and industrious in the second half, but they found no reward for their efforts, with Broja coming closest when denied by Raya, as Albania ultimately slipped to a defeat which means they remained winless at major international tournaments.

TALKING POINT – Can Spain recreate history?

This is only the second time Spain have won each of their three group games at a European Championship, and the previous occasion was in 2008, when they won the tournament.

On this showing, there is no reason why they cannot go again, as they rarely had to get out of second gear to see off an Albania side who rarely threatened them, particularly in the first half.

Crucially for La Roja, they were able to almost completely rotate their squad too, making 10 changes from their previous match, meaning stars such as Alvaro Morata, Lamine Yamal and Rodri will be well-rested for the last-16.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH – Ferran Torres (Spain)

The former Manchester City man was in fine form as he grabbed his 20th international goal in just his 44th appearance for Spain.

But the midfielder’s performance was about much more than scoring, thanks to an attacking display that made him a constant thorn in the side of the Albanian defence.

Now 24, Torres could still have a decade left at the top level, and that is a scary prospect, given how well he exploited pockets of space and was able to peel off his man to create shooting opportunities.

PLAYER RATINGS

Albania: Strakosha 6; Balliu 7, Ajeti 7, Djimsiti 7, Mitaj 7; Asani 6, Ramadani 6, Laci 6, Asllani 7, Bajrami 6; Manaj 6. Subs: Broja 7, Berisha 6, Hoxha 6, Muci n/a

Spain: Raya 8; Navas 7, Vivian 7, Laporte 6, Grimaldo 6; Torres 8, Zubimendi 6, Olmo 7, Merino 7, Oyarzabal 6; Joselu 6. Subs: Le Normand 6, Lopes 6, Yamal 7, Morata 6, Baena n/a

KEY MOMENTS

13’ GOAL! ALBANIA 0-1 SPAIN (Ferran Torres). We have lift off! Ferran Torres does it against Albania again. It all starts from the back, as Spain play the ball out of defence. Olmo releases the forward with a superb pass, and the Barcelona man curls it into the far corner. 1-0.

45’ RAYA MAKES A FLYING SAVE. That’s the first stop the goalkeeper has had to make this evening, and it’s a good one. Kristjan Asllani lets rip from outside the are with a thunderbolt that is palmed away

47’ JOSELU COMES CLOSE. What a start to the second half that would have been. A cross comes in from the left. It’s in between the penalty spot and the six yard line, and Joselu somehow gets in front of his defender, hooks his leg around and directs the ball just the wrong side of the near post

64’ BROJA TESTS RAYA. Wow! A second huge save from Raya! Broja makes a brilliant run onto a chipped free-kick, and he hooks goalwards from a tough angle, forcing a superb tip over the bar from the goalkeeper

KEY STATS

  • Dani Olmo’s assist was his fourth for Spain at the European Championships – only Cesc Fabregas (five) has registered more
  • This was Albania’s ninth defeat from as many attempts against La Roja
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