It was a tale of two goalkeepers when England played Albania in 1989.
Bobby Robson’s England put in a thoroughly professional performance to beat Albania 5-0 in a World Cup Qualifier on this day, 21 years ago.
A Wembley crowd of 60,000 saw Gary Lineker, Peter Beardsley (two), Chris Waddle (above) and Paul Gascoigne score the goals – but the most fascinating aspect of the match concerned the goalkeepers.
Blendi Nallbani, a confident 17-year-old, was making his debut for Albania. When Peter Shilton, England’s ‘keeper on the night, made his own debut against East Germany in 1970, Blendi wasn’t even born. The youngster endured a tough baptism, conceding twice in the first 12 minutes.
Lineker was the first to pierce the Albanian defence, the ball bouncing kindly for him to nod home on five minutes. England’s lethal marksman then turned provider, laying a clever ball through for Beardsley to make it 2-0.
The visitors were in danger of being overwhelmed, but plenty of spirit and hard work kept England out for the rest of the half.
A Demollari effort was ruled out for offside before England rattled in three more goals in the second period.
Lineker combined with Neil Webb to set up Beardsley for his second of the night and Gascoigne came on for David Rocastle to help Waddle score England’s fourth and then delight the crowd with a brilliant individual goal of his own.