Euro 2024 round-up: Heartbreak for Croatia as Italy snatch last-gasp equaliser

IF anyone wanted to know why so many people around the world are obsessed with football, they just need to watch the Croatia v Italy game at the on-going Euro 2024.

Breathless, frenetic action that pulled at the emotions of watching fans, not least the entire nation of Croatia who were mere seconds away from celebrating a famous victory that would have seen them qualifying for the knock out stage. Alas, it was not to be.

Spain continued their impressive form by completing the group stage with a 100% record.

Croatia 1 v Italy 1

This was a game high on drama and ultimately heartache for Croatia and their talismanic playmaker Luka Modric.

Croatia needed a win while their opponents only needed to avoid defeat to advance to the next round. The first half was a cagey affair as both sets of players seemed overly cautious and mindful of making mistakes but became more adventurous, particularly Croatia, as the clock ticked down.

The evergreen Modric still has a spring in his step at the age of 38 but this will probably be his last European championship.

He was at the centre of the drama when he missed a penalty only to score from the ensuing action in the 55th minute.

The Italians staring at possible elimination were stung into action and began to move the ball forward more purposely.

With the Croatian fans in the stadium whistling for full time, the Italians struck with virtually the final kick of the match. The hero of the hour was Lazio’s Mattia Zaccagni who scored from the edge of the box with a spectacular curling effort that broke Croat hearts.

Spain 1 v Albania 0

This was Albania’s first major tournament and they bowed out with pride very much intact. Despite exiting at the group stage, the team coached by former Arsenal player Silvinho won many admirers for their fearless football.

Spain made 10 changes to the starting XI that featured in their last game against Italy but did little to slow their progress.

Ferran Torres scored in the 18th minute to secure victory as well as maintain their perfect start to the tournament.

The last time they achieved such a feat was when they won the trophy in 2008. With their impressive form, few will be betting against them going all the way though there are murmurs that this team is peaking too early.

But the signs are ominous as Spain have the personnel and tactical savvy to get the job done. No longer wedded to possession football, Luis De La Fuente’s side makes effective and efficient use of the ball, punishing opponents at opportune moments.

Spain is indeed the team to beat at the moment. – June 25, 2024


Upcoming fixtures:

France v Poland – 12am (25 June)

Netherlands v Austria – 12am (25 June)


Main pic credit: Getty Images

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