France's Euro 2020 qualifier with Albania delayed after wrong national anthem played

A mix-up with the national anthem of Albania caused a delay to the kick-off of their Euro 2020 qualifier with France in Paris.
A mix-up with the national anthem of Albania caused a delay to the kick-off of their Euro 2020 qualifier with France in Paris.

France's Euro 2020 qualifier with Albania was delayed following a bizarre mix-up with the visitors' national anthem at the Stade de France.

Saturday's match was set to kick-off at 8:45pm local time in Paris, only for kick-off to be briefly put back when the wrong anthem was played over the stadium tannoy.

Instead of Albania's national song, the anthem of Group H rivals Andorra was aired, much to the frustration of the visiting players and coaching staff, who refused to start proceedings.

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As players looked around with confused looks on their faces, the visiting Albania fans made obscene gestures to protest the farcical scenes. 

France coach Didier Deschamps spoke with Albania manager Edy Reja on the field following the mix-up, as fans and players waited for the correct anthem to start.

The issue was raised with the referee and UEFA officials, with kick-off delayed until after the correct anthem had been played, though the stadium announcer then accidentally apologised to Armenia in another embarrassing moment.

An eventual seven-minute delay on Saturday did little to unsettle France, as Kingsley Coman swept home to put the world champions into an early lead.

Olivier Giroud would add a second in the 27th minute before Coman scored again in the second half to give the home side a three-goal advantage. 

Jonathan Ikone added a late goal to become the first France player to score on his debut since Younes Kaboul and Marvin Martin did so against Ukraine in June 2011.

Albania would add a late consolation as Sokol Cikalleshi scored from the penalty spot in the 90th minute, as the game ended in a 4-1 final score in Paris. 

The win ensured France would keep pace atop Group H of Euro 2020 qualifying with Iceland, as both countries have 12 points after five rounds of fixtures. 

Ironically, France's next match will come against Andorra on Tuesday at the Stade de France. 

The defending world champions are unlikely to have too much trouble against an Andorra side that have lost all five of their qualifying matches thus far, scoring zero goals and conceding 11.

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