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If Albania is done in Euro 2016, we'll be sad to see them go

One of the tournament's minnows gave everything they had for three games and gave themselves a chance to advance.

Julian Finney/Getty Images

Albania has been a joy to watch at Euro 2016, and it's likely we've seen the last of them. They defeated Romania 1-0 on Sunday to give themselves a chance of making the Round of 16, but they still have a negative goal differential, so they'll need quite a bit of help to finish as one of the top four third-placed teams.

Armando Sadiku scored Albania's first ever goal at a major tournament, securing them their first ever win at one as well. It was well deserved, coming after a solid run of sustained pressure.

Credit: user Omar_Til_Death on r/soccer

They've given a great performance in every single game, but they suffered unlucky defeats in two of them. They outplayed Switzerland 10 vs. 11, but were ultimately undone by an early set-piece goal and the sending off of their captain, Lorik Cana. Against France, they defended well and had a handful of dangerous-looking counters before giving up a 90th-minute winner.

Those losses will likely keep Albania from going forward, but it didn't stop them for playing Sunday's game like it mattered, and celebrating their win like they had secured advancement. And after all, why not? Besides being their first win at a major tournament, this win was a vindication of what they'd been doing in qualifying and their previous two games. It was proof that they're good enough to compete at the highest level, and that they're not just lucky to be here.

No team at Euro 2016 has less of a history at the highest level of international soccer and fewer players that casual soccer fans will recognize. Despite that, they were very far from the worst or most boring team at the tournament. They exceeded everyone's expectations.

Even though they got off to a terrible start by giving up a fifth-minute goal to Switzerland and picking up a red card before the end of the first half of that match, they've been a great credit to the tournament since. They've defended intelligently without being negative, attacked with pace, given the hosts all they could handle and eventually, securing a win. And after Sunday's game, they were beyond overjoyed with their result. If this is their last game at Euro 2016, we'll be sad to see them go.