MATCHDAY 10: France Top Group A, Albania Eliminate Romania, And More

Match day 10 featured two games between the four teams of Group A, one of which was played between France and Switzerland and ended in a 0-0 draw.

Paul Pogba managed to hit the wood work twice, and Dimitri Payet also struck the crossbar, but the Frenchmen failed to score a goal against the Swiss. Switzerland almost won a penalty in injury time when Bacary Sagna pulled Blerim Dzemaili’s shirt, but it wasn’t given.

Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka was named the man of the match for his fabulous display, which involved 105 touches and 94 passes with a completion rate of 89%.

France coach Didier Deschamps used his post-match interview to complain about the pitch and the tough nature of the tournament. He stated: “The pitch is annoying. I don’t know who is responsible. We are only in the group stage and it is in a state. But for a great goalkeeper and a few centimetres, we would have scored goals. You can always criticise but we kept a clean sheet and we finished top of the group.”

The French boss also heaped praise on France’s star man Paul Pogba: “Paul Pogba was the life force of the match in the first half; he was the heart and soul. In the second half he didn’t get forward but he has huge potential and I have huge confidence in him.”

Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic was happy to have qualified for the knockout stages, and said: “It’s a significant achievement but the first step forward was this, our minimum objective. We played well, we held firm and now we know we will play on Saturday. We need to rest up and now other sides deserve to run and play against us. We’re relaxed and we’ll be trying to win the game and not just do ourselves credit.

“We were excellent in the first half. In the second half it was tricky with the playing surface and we faded a bit. We kept our heads up, but we must do better in the last third of the pitch. It [the pitch] hampered the quality of the game. It does not hold up well and I hope they can fix it, but it was the same for both sides.”

The draw means the Euro 2016 hosts end the group stage atop Group A, whereas Switzerland finish second.

The Swiss will now play the second-placed team from Group C at Saint-Etienne on Saturday, and the French will face the third-placed team from either Group C, D or E the day after, in Lyon.

In the second game of match day 10, Albania beat Romania 1-0 to secure a third place finish in Group A.

Albania hit 3 shots on target in the first half, which is more than they have managed in their previous two games combined (2), and their pressure finally resulted in a breakthrough, as Armando Sadiku bagged the only goal of the game by scoring a header past Romanian goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu in the 43rd minute.

Albanian midfielder Ledian Memushaj, who created 7 chances for his side, was named the man of the match.

Albania boss Giovanni de Biasi expressed his delight over the win by stating: “I’m sure we gave huge joy to the Albanian fans. Not just the Albanians in Albania, but Albanians who live around the world. Wherever we go, we’ve found fans who just want to show support and gratitude for what we do.

“Today, we got what we could’ve got in the first two games – you need to score to get results. We contained a team that has quality and strength and conceded just two goals in qualifying. We got there with heart and quality. We played with our heads and mental strength. This is what I’d like us to do in every game.”

Romania manager Anghel Iordanescu, on the other hand, apologised for the loss which ended up eliminating his team from the Euros: “A loss is a loss and we’re really sorry for what happened.

“We had many opportunities to score. We started the match well and controlled the game. Because of a mistake in our defence, we conceded a goal. In the second half, we tried to impose our style of play and take possession. If we’d scored, perhaps the game would’ve been different. The Albanian supporters gave energy to the Albania team and that helped them to score.”

Thanks to their victory, Albania have finished third in Group A. It still remains to be seen whether the Albanians are one of the four best third-placed teams, but if they are, they will proceed to the knockout stages to face the winners of either Group B, or Group C.

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