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Saturday July 20, 2024

Euro 2024: Italy advance to last 16 despite draw with Croatia

With draw in a match against Croatia, Italy finished second in Group B as Spain topped Group B after beating Albania 1-0

By Web Desk
June 25, 2024
Croatias midfielder #10 Luka Modric leaves the pitch after being substituted during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between Croatia and Italy at the Leipzig Stadium in Leipzig on June 24, 2024.
Croatia's midfielder #10 Luka Modric leaves the pitch after being substituted during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between Croatia and Italy at the Leipzig Stadium in Leipzig on June 24, 2024. 

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni rescued his side with a 98th-minute equaliser that secured them a 1-1 draw against Croatia. However, the draw could not stop them from booking their spot in Euro 2024's last 16 on Monday.

Luka Modric, 38, gave Croatia the lead in the 55th minute, moments after missing a penalty. His goal appeared to secure Croatia’s progression, but late substitute Zaccagni delivered a stunning finish, bending the ball past Dominik Livakovic into the far corner.

"We deserved to go through tonight in terms of what we produced out there," said Italy coach Luciano Spalletti. "It was hard to make it through this group. Spain are brilliant, Croatia are excellent."

Spain topped Group B with a perfect record after beating Albania 1-0, leaving Italy second with four points. Croatia are third and must wait to see if their two points will be enough to progress as one of the best third-placed teams.

The match saw Italy recovering from a previous defeat by Spain. Croatia, struggling at the finals with a 3-0 loss to Spain and a 2-2 draw with Albania, were on the precipice.

Luka Sucic's long-range shot was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma. Italy's best chance in the first half came from Alessandro Bastoni's header. However, they were saved by Livakovic.

In the second half, Croatia grabbed a penalty after Andrej Kramaric's shot struck Davide Frattesi’s arm. Modric’s penalty was brilliantly saved by Donnarumma, but the veteran midfielder quickly redeemed himself, scoring from the rebound and becoming the oldest scorer in the tournament’s history.

"It is hard when you lose like this to describe how you feel. The football gods don't always smile on us," Modric commented after the match.

Italy pushed for an equaliser, with Gianluca Scamacca nearly connecting in the 87th minute. Finally, Zaccagni’s late strike broke Croatian hearts, securing Italy’s progression.