A gusty Faroese display was not enough, as they suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Albania at Tórsvøllur on Tuesday.
In team news, three changes were made from Saturday’s defeat to Czechia, with Hanus Sørensen replacing Gilli Rólantsson at right back and attackers Jóan Símun Edmundsson and Klæmint Olsen coming in for Petur Knudsen and Jóannes Bjartalíð, as coach Håkan Ericson reverted to a 4-4-2 formation.
After a tight opening quarter, Albania took the lead through a clinical Nedim Bajrami finish after a smart pass from Jasir Asani.
Minutes later, things nearly got worse for the Faroe Islands when Albania was awarded a penalty after a foul by Heini Vatnsdal. However, Teitur Gestsson stepped up and saved Sokol Cikalleshi’s spot kick low to his right-hand side.
This gave the players and home supporters a much-needed lift, and just before the half-time break Odmar Færø equalized with a powerful header from an accurate Jóan Símun Edmundsson cross, and we headed into half-time level and all in need of a sit-down!
Sadly, parity was only restored for six minutes, as Inter Milan’s Kristjan Asllani scored an absolute belter from distance, well beyond the helpless Gestsson, a goal truly worthy of a recent Champions League finalist.
However, this didn’t deter the spirited home side, who went in pursuit of another leveller, with substitutes Jóannes Bjartalíð, Andrass Johansen, and Petur Knudsen giving the team renewed sense of enthusiasm.
And they almost did get the equalizer when in the 72nd minute debutant Andrass Johansen headed agonisingly wide from a tempting Jóannes Bjartalíð cross. If that was agonizing, the next chance minutes later was purely excruciating, with the dangerous Bjartalíð volley from a perfect Petur Knudsen cross deflecting wide.
‘We gave it everything we had’
The Faroes threw more attacking players on in the form of Stefan Radosavljević and the much-awaited return of Brandur Olsen after nearly a year out injured (welcome back, Brandur!) in search of a well-deserved point, which left holes at the back. And Albania finally capitalized on this in the 91st minute after a smart run and finish from Ernest Muçi.
It may have been another painful defeat, but the Faroe Islands players can walk away with their heads held high; in the knowledge they gave it a real go and, on another day, would have come away with a result. It was a night-and-day difference display from the abject one on Saturday against Czechia, which yielded just one effort at goal, and Håkan and the squad can take a lot of positives away from the performance.
Here are my player ratings:
12) Teitur Gestsson — 8.5/10 (MOTM)
3) Viljormur Davidsen — 7/10
16) Gunnar Vatnhamar — 6.5/10
15) Odmar Faero — 8.5/10
4) Heini Vatnsdal — 6/10
14) Hanus Sørensen — 8/10
22) Jakup Andreasen — 6/10
10) Solvi Vatnhamar — 6.5/10
20) René Shaki Joensen — 6.5/10
9) Jóan Símun Edmundsson — 7/10
11) Klæmint Olsen — 7/10
7) Jóannes Bjartalíð (45th minute for Jakup Andreasen) — 8.5/10
19) Petur Knudsen (65th minute for René Shaki Joensen) — 7.5/10
6) Andrass Johansen (65th minute for Jóan Símun Edmundsson) — 7.5/10
8) Brandur Olsen (80th minute for Gunnar Vatnhamar) — N/A
17) Stefan Radosavljević (80th minute for Solvi Vatnhamar) — N/A
Coach Håkan Ericson — 7/10. Changed the formation from last week’s defeat but possibly picked the wrong personnel, with substitutes Bjartalíð and Knudsen giving the side some much-needed pace and directness, which was lacking in the first-half. Still, at least he gave it a go and can be pleased with the effort and chances created by his players; however, defensive errors still need to be addressed.
“It was a much better game than the one against the Czech Republic,” midfielder Jóannes Bjartalíð said after the match, commenting on the defeat. “Better effort, calmer on the ball, and we created chances. But still, we give away easy goals, and again they score a very good goal from further out.”
“We gave it everything we had,” said center forward Jóan Símun Edmundsson. “Teitur kept us in the match with the penalty save especially, and when we manage to score just before half time. I really felt at the start of the second half that it could have gone both ways. Unfortunately it was an uphill battle after they took the lead again with a screamer, but we kept trying and lost to a better side in the end.”
The national team now have a break until they next play away to Poland on September 7th.