Albania responded to Friday's disappointing home defeat by Iceland in ideal fashion, beating Slovenia 1-0 to record their second win in four 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Winless in their last five meetings with Slovenia, Albania bucked that trend and, in the process, prevented a third straight qualifying defeat. A first-half strike from Odise Roshi proved sufficient for Gianni De Biassi's hosts, who put in a sterling defensive effort.
With Roshi in the starting lineup, Albania showed more spark in attack than in recent outings, and though Ervin Bulku and Andi Lila were off target, the FSV Frankfurt forward found the net after 37 minutes from Emilian Vila's assist. It still took Albania goalkeeper Etrit Berisha to keep his side in front at the interval, though, the debutant catching the eye with a string of saves from Josip Iličić, Zlatko Dedič and Andraž Kirm.
Slovenia attacked more after the break and Albania sat back, soaking up pressure with the help of the defensive reinforcements that De Biassi sent on in the shape of Debatik Curri and Armend Dallku. "I am very happy for the players and the fans," De Biassi said after the match. "We showed that we were able to bounce back and silence the sceptics who didn't believe in our strength. We are where we want to be."
Albania lie one point behind second-placed Norway, whom they face in their next two matches in March and June next year. Now fifth in the group, Slaviša Stojanovic's Slovenia, who have just three points from a possible 12, will seek a big improvement in their double-header with Iceland in the same months.
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