Ronaldo-less Portugal lose to Albania in 2016 Euro qualifier

Albania's players celebrate their victory over Portugal at the end of their Euro 2016 qualifier.

HUGO CORREIA/Action Images / Reuters

AVEIRO, Portugal (AP) Portugal paid the price for Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence through injury as it slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat at home to Albania in a 2016 European Championship qualifier on Sunday.

Portugal was in the driving seat for most of the game in Group I but had trouble finding a way through its opponent’s packed defense. When the chances finally came, the Portuguese squandered them.

Bekim Balaj showed them how to do it in the 52nd minute when he received a cross from the right and produced a spectacular first-time volley.

Ricardo Horta hit the woodwork in the 69th on his debut, but Portugal failed to improve after its disappointing first-round exit at the World Cup in Brazil.

Elsewhere in Group I, Denmark rallied to beat Armenia 2-1.