Croatia 1 – 1 Italy


Mattia Zaccagni broke Croatian hearts with a 98th-minute equaliser to send Italy into the Euro 2024 last 16 and put their opponents on the brink of elimination.

Luka Modric’s dramatic opener seemed set to send Croatia into the knockouts but instead, it will be Italy who take on Switzerland in Berlin on Saturday after securing second place in Group B behind Spain in sensational scenes in Leipzig.

With just two points, Croatia – who also conceded a stoppage-time equaliser to Albania – now need England to beat Slovenia by at least three goals on Tuesday if they are to progress as one of the best third-placed sides.

With the clock running down, Italy were desperate. Gianluigi Donnarumma had saved Modric’s second-half spot-kick – after Davide Frattesi was penalised for handball after a VAR check – but the 38-year-old magician converted from close range 33 seconds later before celebrating emotionally with his team-mates.

When Modric was subbed off with 10 minutes of normal time remaining he was given a standing ovation by the Croatia supporters. It looked like his latest magic moment would send Croatia once more into a major tournament knockout adventure. Instead, his 178th cap looks likely to be his final major tournament appearance for his country.

Alessandro Bastoni wasted another big, headed chance to go with his effort which was brilliantly saved by Dominik Livakovic early on and Gianluca Scamacca failed to turn in Federico Chiesa’s low cross as Italy frantically searched for an answer. But it was sub Zaccagni who came up with his first international goal to transform the narrative.

Riccardo Calafiori burst forward and then fed the Lazio winger in the left channel. His curled, right-footed finish was exquisite, bending inside the far post. A moment of beauty – but a brutal blow for Croatia.

The joy… and the despair!

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni scores his side's opening goal during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
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Italy’s Mattia Zaccagni bends in his brilliant, last-gasp equaliser…

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni, right, celebrates with team mates after scoring during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
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…and runs off to celebrate

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni, top left, celebrates after he scored his side's opening goal during the Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
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The contrast in emotions was huge…

Croatia's Luka Modric reacts at the end of Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
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…but it was all pain for Luke Modric on what is almost certainly his final major tournament appearance

Analysis: Modric cruelly denied another magic night

Croatia's Luka Modric waves supporters at the end of a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
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Croatia’s Luka Modric applauds his country’s supporters after the draw with Italy

Sky Sports’ Peter Smith:

With Spain and Italy in the same group, there was always the possibility Luka Modric’s fifth European Championship and ninth major tournament with Croatia would end in disappointment. But the manner of their dramatic draw with Italy felt cruelly painful for the 38-year-old.

He had become the oldest scorer ever at a Euros when he made up for his penalty miss with a close-range finish and as he was applauded off late on, it seemed he had done the business for Croatia once again. The conductor of Croatia’s play had come up with the defining moment. But dreams of another run deep into a major tournament were smashed by Italy’s equaliser with virtually the final kick of the game.

Modric, watching on from the dugout, was helpless. A big win for England over Slovenia seems unlikely, given the performances of Gareth Southgate’s side so far. And another major tournament for Modric – 39 in September – is surely a step too far, even for a player who intends to go on playing for Real Madrid next season. He was coy on his international future after the game. But this could be the end of him on the international stage.

Star performer: Mattia Zaccagni

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni scores his side's opening goal during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
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Italy’s Mattia Zaccagni bends in his brilliant late equaliser

Sky Sports’ Peter Smith:

A name many could be forgiven for not knowing before kick-off. A name Croatia supporters won’t be able to get out of their heads after it. Mattia Zaccagni. The 29-year-old Lazio winger picked a perfect time to score his first international goal on his seventh cap for Italy.

And what a finish it was. A wonderful, bending effort into the far corner which was in contrast to the scrappy, desperate football Italy had produced after Modric’s opener. Zaccagni won the goal of the season prize in Serie A for an overhead kick in 2021. But this may be the one he treasures most.

Stats: Story of the match

Group B final results…



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