Sunday 8thJune 2014
Stadio Olimpico di Serravalle, San Marino
San Marino 0-3 Albania
It’s rare that San Marino play friendly matches, and when they do it is not usually against the higher level of opposition. (Their match with Italy a couple of years ago being a notable exception.) They’ve played Liechtenstein a few times, even beaten them once. Remarkable things can happen, if infrequently, particularly if the opposition sees the match as something of a training exercise and a chance to blood a few new youngsters. It’s therefore quite disappointing to report that San Marino’s latest friendly escapade has ended in defeat once more, to an Albania side that is very much on the rise.
San Marino did keep Albania at bay for almost half an hour, restricting them to a few long range efforts but nothing too dangerous. They even managed one or two attacks of their own, though naturally none of them were particularly threatening.
But the tide was heading one way and when Albania scored their opener from Mergin Mavraj on 28 minutes, the end was nigh. The goal came after Armando Vajushi looped over a free kick from close to the right corner flag finding Mavraj who rose above the defence at the back post to head home. Mavraj is a German born former German U-21 international, but chose to play for the nation of his parents (Albanian Kosovans). This strike was his first international goal in 17 appearances.
This was the prompt for an intense period of pressure from Albania, and only a few minutes later, wide man Armando Vajushi added a second, and likewise it was his first international goal. Cutting in from the right he fired a stunning left foot shot into the top corner beyond Simoncini in the home net. Unstoppable.
Emiljano Vila added the third in the second half to round out the victory with an equally impressive strike. The ball rebounded around the edge of the box and flew up above Vila who crashed home a terrific volley.
A 3-0 defeat it may have been but if there’s any consolation I suppose it can be found in the fact that Albania had to score two very impressive goals to see out the win.