Nicolò Barella reveals his injury made him particularly determined to ‘repay’ the Italy team with a goal in the 2-1 victory over Albania. ‘Conceding so early could really hurt the players psychologically.’

The Azzurri went behind in their EURO 2024 opener after a record 23 seconds, the fastest ever goal in the history of the European Championship, when Nedim Bajrami intercepted the Federico Dimarco throw-in.

“It was a bit of a strange start, an opening goal after 23 seconds could really hurt the players psychologically,” Barella told Sky Sport Italia.

“However, we wanted this victory, we should’ve scored more goals and fell away a bit at the end, but we started on the right foot with this win.”

Alessandro Bastoni equalised by nodding in a corner, then Barella fired in the winner from the edge of the penalty area.

Although he hardly ever scores for Inter, Barella is the top Italy scorer in the current squad with 10 goals.

“That’s a bit worrying, as it just means I’m getting old and played more games.”

Barella had been in doubt for Italy-Albania

There had been major doubts as to whether the Inter man would play this evening, as he missed both warm-up games with a muscular problem.

“I am happy, as when I was not training the last few days, it was a difficult moment, but the coach, staff and teammates all made me feel an integral part of the team. I wanted to repay them for that.”

It was his Inter teammate Bastoni’s second goal in the Italy jersey.

“I am happy for him too, he’s a great guy and he deserves it.”

The Azzurri are top of the group with Spain, who are ahead on goal difference after demolishing Croatia 3-0.

These sides go head-to-head on June 20, then Italy face Croatia on June 24.

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