Albania held Switzerland to a 1-1 draw in their EURO 2004™ Group 10 qualifier in Tirana today thanks to a powerful free-kick from midfield player Edvin Murati.
Despite a bright beginning Albania found themselves a goal down in the 37th minute, Murat Yakin heading the away side ahead from Alex Frei’s cross. Albania were initially restricted by Italian coach Giuseppe Dossena’s formation, as lone striker Igli Tare of Brescia Calcio was often isolated up front and, when midfield players did push forward in support, it left too many open spaces for the Swiss attackers to exploit.
However, once Albania became accustomed to their formation they carved out several good opportunities to equalise, with Tare particularly culpable, heading Ervin Fakaj’s cross wide early in the second half. However, the home side continued to press forward, and Dossena’s introduction of substitutes Altin Haxhi and Florian Myrtaj gave the attack more impetus.
Alban Bushi almost scored with a powerful free-kick in 75th minute, but four minutes later he set the stadium alight when he found the net from about 25 metres with another effort.
Switzerland almost snatched victory in injury time when first Stéphane Chapuisat and then substitute Leonard Thurre each had only Albanian keeper Foto Strakosha to beat, but both were denied. Albania next travel to Russia on Wednesday, while Switzerland visit the Republic of Ireland the same night.