HomeNewsCroatia vs. Italy: Italy Stuns Croatia with Late Goal to Advance at...

Croatia vs. Italy: Italy Stuns Croatia with Late Goal to Advance at Euro ’24

On Monday, reigning champions Italy secured a place in the round of 16 at Euro 2024 with a 1-1 draw against Croatia, whose tournament aspirations were left precarious, thanks to a goal by Mattia Zaccagni in the 98th minute.

Italy will next play Switzerland, who finished second in their group after drawing 1-1 with Germany on Sunday.

Luka Modric took Croatia the lead in the 55th minute, shortly after missing a penalty, and it seemed like they would advance until late replacement Zaccagni bent a magnificent goal past Dominik Livakovic’s desperate dive into the far corner.

“It was very stressful; we battled until the end,” Modric remarked after the game. “But football was harsh to us tonight—terrible. It’s difficult to put into words how you feel after such a loss. The football gods don’t always smile at you, but we have to bounce back.”

The outcome left Italy second in Group B with four points, while Croatia is now waiting to know whether two points would be enough to go to the knockout round as one of the top four third-placed teams.

Spain, who led the standings, defeated Albania 1-0 to complete a perfect three-game run and leave the eliminated Albanians with only one point.

Albania’s defeat also catapulted teams that were not in action into the round of 16, with England, France, and the Netherlands being assured of finishing among the top four third-placed teams.

Italy had suffered a loss by Spain that may have been more emphatic than the 1-0 result, but if there was any consolation for Luciano Spalletti’s team coming into Monday’s meeting, it was that Croatia had been even less remarkable in the tournament.

“There are things that happen in our matches that are illogical but we need to take what the boys have in their qualities and put them in a position to express themselves at their best,” Spalletti told the crowd. “We passed the group stage on merit. Now we’ll have time to ponder about the next encounter in the last 16.

The Croats were on the verge of elimination after losing 3-0 to Spain and drawing 2-2 with Albania, and one of the primary concerns that had plagued them throughout the tournament—how to convert possession into a goal threat—resurfaced in the first half against Italy.

Croatia scarcely offered the Italians a kick for the whole of the opening 20 minutes, so it was unsurprising that they only had Luka Sucic’s long-range piledriver, which Gianluigi Donnarumma parried.

Alessandro Bastoni had the finest chance of the first half, meeting Nicolò Barella’s lofted pass to the far post with a header that Livakovic saved.

However, Croatia was granted a penalty just minutes into the second half. Andrej Kramaric’s shot touched half-time replacement Davide Frattesi’s extended arm, and although referee Danny Makkelie let play on, the VAR directed him to check the screen, and he quickly reversed his decision.

Modric went up to attempt the penalty kick, but Donnarumma stopped spectacularly low to the keeper’s left, providing just a little relief for Italy.

Seconds later, Croatia’s half-time replacement Ante Budimir’s header prompted another fantastic save from Donnarumma, but Modric was on there to scoop up the rebound and drive it into the top of the goal to atone for his penalty miss.

Modric scored the goal at the age of 38 years and 289 days, becoming the oldest scorer in European Championship history, but Croatia’s jubilation was brief.

Italy battled hard to get back into the game, and replacement Gianluca Scamacca came within inches of connecting with a cross in the 87th minute.

However, as Croatian supporters began to celebrate what they believed would be a triumph, Italy delivered a crushing late blow.

“Immense satisfaction, I’m excited, it’s a beautiful evening,” Zaccagni said. “It was critical to draw to finish in second place. We performed well to remain in the game after a strong second half. We earned the draw. The coach has done an excellent job in assembling this team, and we will attempt to reward him on the field.”

Abu Bakar
Abu Bakar
Abubakar is a writer and digital marketing expert. Who has founded multiple blogs and successful businesses in the fields of digital marketing, software development. A full-service digital media agency that partners with clients to boost their business outcomes.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments