Luciano Spaletti believes Italy need to show a ‘mean’ streak after some wasteful finishing in their opening win over Albania at Euro 2024.

The defending champions fell behind to the quickest goal in the tournament’s history after Nedim Bajrami struck just 23 seconds into the Group B tie.

Despite that calamitous start, Spalletti’s side soon led through Alessandro Bastoni and Nicolo Barella, but a series of blown opportunities meant they remained open to a sucker punch. Had Rey Manaj converted in the final stages, it would have materialised.

While Spalletti was pleased with the over-riding dominance of Italy’s performance, the wastefulness of their finishing has been a familiar concern. 

After the 2-1 win, he said: ‘We have to improve. We thought we were better than we were in certain situations.

Luciano Spelletti (pictured) has urged his side to be ‘meaner’ following their 2-1 victory against Albania

Nedim Bajrami (right) shocked the European Champions scoring in the opening 23 seconds

Nedim Bajrami (right) shocked the European Champions scoring in the opening 23 seconds

‘We need to be meaner. We are neat and tidy in building things up but we need to hurt the opposition. 

‘We thought we were brilliant at keeping possession but that’s something we need to do better.

‘We played the game in the right way. But it’s true, the scoreline doesn’t reflect the difference between the two teams, and we risked an equaliser late on.’

Italy next face Spain, who beat Croatia earlier in the day. As for Albania, playing in a major international tournament for only the second time, they already face a severe test to stay in the tournament.

But their manager Sylvinho took heart from how well they adapted on the big stage, with an enormous Albanian presence in the city and stadium.

The former Arsenal defender said: ‘We could have managed our lead better but we mustn’t forget we were against a really good team. 

‘They knew they had to win and it is a shame we were not able to resist. It is not easy because they are a good side. 

‘Had we not conceded the second goal it would have been a good match for us.

Italy pulled an equaliser back in the 11th minute through Alessandro Bastoni (pictured)

Italy pulled an equaliser back in the 11th minute through Alessandro Bastoni (pictured) 

Nicolo Barella (pictured) scored the winner in the 16th minute to seal victory for Italy

Nicolo Barella (pictured) scored the winner in the 16th minute to seal victory for Italy 

Albania's manager Sylvinho (centre) took heart from how well they adapted on the big stage during the match

Albania’s manager Sylvinho (centre) took heart from how well they adapted on the big stage during the match

‘I was disappointed for the result, I cannot hide my feelings. We worked 10 days straight for a win or draw. 

‘As head coach I need to thank all the Albanians here. I saw so many Albanians proud to have a team here, so it is a shame we couldn’t equalise but these things happen.

‘Once you are used to playing this competition, it can be easy. As a player I was used to Champions League, playing against Real Madrid, Juventus.

‘But when are not, you have no idea what to expect. People tell you it is a high level but you have no idea.’

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