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Albania-Switzerland: Gashi Almost a Hero

Rapids forward Shkelzen Gashi comes on in the 82nd minute with Albania down a goal, but can't convert.

Damn. Damn.
Damn. Damn.
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In Albania's first appearance in the Euros, Rapids forward Shkelzen Gashi had a chance to become a legend. But, like every other shot by Albania's strikers on the day, Gashi's ball found Swiss GK Yann Sommer.

Albania fell behind quickly on a goalkeeper gaffe in just the 5th minute, as keeper Etrit Berisha came out for Switzerland's first corner, but failed to reach the ball before Fabian Schar headed it into the net. It got worse from there.

Albanian Centerback and team captain Lorik Cana earned two yellows within the span of a quarter on an hour, condemning Albanian to play a man down from the 37th minute on. The second was on a clearly intentional hand ball just outside of his own 18 as he stumbled to the ground clumsily.

Albania had their chances. Striker Armando Sadiku had two clear chances - one went wide right, and another, more dangerous shot alone against the Swiss keeper was parried. Taulant Xhaka also had a first half chance fall off target.

With 81 minutes gone, Gashi came on in place of Sadiku and settled in on the right side. The left-footed Gashi made a run through the Swiss defense at the 85th minute that was so perfect, many of the Swiss defenders assumed he was offside.

The flag, however, stayed down.

One on one with the keeper, Gashi cradled the ball with his favored foot. He nudged it slightly, buying himself a split second to suss out the keeper Sommers intention. Gashi fired the ball left and over the shoulder of Sommer, but the keeper, intuiting the move, dove at just the right moment, flicking the ball away harmlessly to the touch line.

Albania would not get another chance, as Switzerland pick up 3 points to share the lead in Group A with France.

Albania still has games against France and Romania to come. The top two teams in each Euro group advance, but six of the eight third place teams qualify for the knockout round. Albania have put themselves in a bad spot with their missed chances and Cana's poorly timed error, but a win against Romania might keep their hopes alive.

Let's hope we get to see Gashi again. For as the great sage Paul Simon said: " I need a photo opportunity / I want a shot at redemption / Don't want to end up a cartoon / In a cartoon graveyard." Everybody deserves a second chance. Let's hope Gashi gets one in the Euros.