Moldova inflict unhappy ending on Albania

Moldova 2-1 Albania
Visiting goalkeeper Stivi Frasheri saved two penalties but could not stop Moldova earning a win that leaves Albania bottom of Group 6.

Petru Leuca celebrates after netting the decisive second Moldova goal
Petru Leuca celebrates after netting the decisive second Moldova goal ©Boris Kharchenko

Moldova left Albania rooted to the foot of Group 6 after goals from Artiom Haceaturov and Petru Leuca earned the home team a 2-1 victory in Tiraspol.

Alexandr Curteian's Moldova had entered the match two points behind Albania but their victory lifted them above the visitors, whose goal came in added time from the head of Elvis Prençi.

Those cold facts tell only half the story of a dramatic contest that began with two penalties for Moldova inside 15 minutes. Albania goalkeeper Stivi Frasheri saved the first spot kick, by Haceaturov, after eight minutes but was beaten to the rebound by the defender. Frasheri repeated the feat seven minutes later when stopping Radu Ginsari from doubling Moldova's lead.

With that reprieve, Albania stepped up a gear in the second half and came close to equalising only for home goalkeeper Denis Rusu to keep out shots by Mergim Brahimi and substitute Vasil Shkurtaj. In between Bekim Balaj fired wide when well placed in the box.

Skënder Gega's visitors paid for those misses when Leuca found the top corner after a quick counter three minutes from time to secure a victory that avenges Albania's 4-3 win when the sides met a year ago to the day in Korca. If a frustrating way for Albania to sign off, Moldova can travel to Russia for their final qualifier on Monday with a spring in their step.