Albania were serious underdogs in their Euro 2016 opener. But while they gave Switzerland a tough game in their 1-0 loss, they never had a real chance to snag points thanks to an awful red card by their captain.
The Albanians did themselves no favors by conceding a set piece goal just four minutes into the match. But they remained competitive despite going a goal down to a more talented team, and forced Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer into an excellent save in the 35th minute.
Then Lorik Cana did this.
Credit: user AlbumTalarium on r/soccer
It's the ridiculous sort of handball that you're unlikely to see again too many times in your life, and it should be appreciated for that reason on a standalone basis. It was also a stupid, entirely unnecessary and avoidable handball by an experienced captain who was already on a yellow card.
On an Albanian team filled with players who have never played at the highest level of the sport or youngsters that just got there, Cana is supposed to be the rock. He's been an important player for big clubs in big leagues for 14 years, he's been the Albanian captain for a decade, and he has 30 more caps than anyone else on the team. If there's a player Albania is depending on to never do something like this, it's Cana.
Albania had decent chances and plenty of the ball with 10 men, much to the surprise of everyone watching. Sommer had to be excellent in this game to keep Switzerland's clean sheet intact. This 87th minute miss from Shkelzen Gashi was absolutely brutal.
And he squanders a HUGE opportunity for #ALB to equalize in the 87th minute. #SUIALB pic.twitter.com/zAIcncYGCF— Ben Jata (@Ben_Jata) June 11, 2016
It's hard not to wonder what might have been if Cana was never sent off. The game certainly would have been more dramatic, and Albania would have had a much better chance of scraping an upset.
Instead, they lost, predictably. And with this, we beg of other prospective great underdog teams at Euro 2016: please don't lose like this. Please just get outplayed if you're going to lose.