Arsenal keeper Raya foils Sylvinho's battling Albania at Euro 2024

Arsenal keeper breaks brave Albanian hearts as former Gunner Sylvinho's side fail to qualify for Euro 2024 knock out stages on a hot night in Dusseldorf

Arsenal keeper Raya foils Sylvinho's battling Albania at Euro 2024

David Raya pictured moments after saving from Armando Borja to ensure his Spain side beat former Gunner Sylvinho's side 1-0 in Dusseldorf. CREDIT: @laythy29

Spain 1-0 Albania: Report by Layth Yousif at Dusseldorf Arena

Luis de la Fuente’s side underlined their strength in depth at this tournament by easing past battling Albania on a hot Monday evening in Dusseldorf.

A first half strike by Ferran Torres was enough to seal victory and make it three wins out of three for the Spanish who remain one of the major favourites to lift the European Championship title for the first time since 2012.

Despite making ten changes from the side that beat Italy 1-0 in their previous match last Thursday, the Spanish second string were too good for Sylvinho’s side.

Despite being roared on by nearly 40,000 passionate Albanians in the Dusseldorf Arena – including a mesmerisingly rousing rendition of their national anthem - the side led by the former Arsenal defender could not grab the victory they needed to qualify for the next round.


With red smoke from the Albania contingent barely cleared, Spain nearly went ahead through Espanyol’s veteran 34-year-old forward Joselu, but his header flew over Albania keeper Thomas Strakosha’s bar.

However, Spain’s dominance told moments later, when they went ahead in the 13th minute through 24-year-old Torres.

The Barcelona attacker is nicknamed the Shark, and the talented 24-year-old certainly showed his predatory instincts.

The £55m Nou Camp signing from Manchester City two summers ago, latched onto Dani Olmo’s pass, to slot home past Albania’s Brentford netminder Strakosha.

As the sweltering temperatures in hot and humid northern Germany cooled as the evening progressed in this stadium - featuring a fascinatingly brutalist, post-industrial façade – Joselu spurned a chance to double the lead when he headed over five minutes before the interval.

Unbowed, Albania nearly levelled when Kristjan Asslani’s long-range strike but Arsenal keeper David Raya – in for Unai Simon, La Roja’s No1 choice from Atletic Bilbao – made a superb save to ensure Spain went into the interval 1-0 ahead.

With the temperature still nearly 25C at the break, half time ice creams - rather than currywurst – were the order of the day on such a hot evening.

Sylvinho’s side started as intently as the large number of youngsters studiously devoured their gelatos as a special treat from parents and guardians in the concourse below the pressbox during the break.

More serious matters were to hand when Sylvinho was booked by no-nonsense Swedish referee Glenn Nyberg after the restart before Olmo nearly scored with a speculative long-range effort that flew past Strakosha’s left-hand post.

Huge cheers from the vociferous Albanian contingent when Armando Broja replaced Rey Manaj as Sylvinho sought the goal that could change everything for his side.

Substitute Broja would have brought the house down had he equalised for Albania shortly afterwards – were it not for Raya who kept the ball out with 25 minutes remaining.

Albania swept forward but Hoxha failed in his plan to increase productivity by firing over. 

As the clock ticked down Raya again foiled Broja to break proud Albanian hearts – even if the team’s incredible support hailed their heroes at the final whistle.

The result also ensures that England have now qualified for the knock-out stages.

Layth is covering Euro 2024 for the Morning Star newspaper. Read his Euro daily diary on Substack here 






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