Joao Moutinho and Portugal struggled despite playing at home in a 1-0 loss to Albania in Euro 2016 qualifying.
September 07, 2014

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 and was loudly jeered by unhappy fans on Sunday.

Bekim Bajal's spectacular second-half volley embarrassed the Portuguese who couldn't translate their dominance of the Group I game into goals, though Nani several times came close in his 75th appearance and newcomer Ricardo Horta hit the woodwork.

Bajal struck in the 52nd minute when he received a cross from the right and produced a spectacular first-time volley.

The surprise result compounded Portugal's problems after its disappointing first-round exit at the World Cup in Brazil.

Portugal commonly struggles in qualifying campaigns and had to go through the playoffs to reach the 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup.

Elsewhere in Group I, Denmark rallied to beat Armenia 2-1, while Serbia drew 1-1 with France in a friendly.

Pierre Emile Hojbjerg leveled and substitute Thomas Kahlenberg netted the late winner for Denmark which fell behind to an early goal from Armenia's Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Aleksander Kolarov's 80th-minute equalizer earned Serbia the draw against France, which qualifies automatically as host country. Paul Pogba scored for the French.

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