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Croatia vs Italy Highlights: Italy’s Injury-Time Equaliser Sends Them to Euro 2024 Knockout Stages

In a thrilling finale at Leipzig Stadium, Italy secured a dramatic 1-1 draw against Croatia, propelling themselves into the Euro 2024 knockout stages. Mattia Zaccagni’s stunning stoppage-time goal broke Croatian hearts and highlighted the unpredictable nature of football at the highest level.

Italy, needing at least a draw to ensure progression, faced a resilient Croatia side desperate for a win to keep their Euro 2024 hopes alive. The match was tense and tactical, with both teams showing moments of brilliance and resilience.

Croatia’s captain Luka Modrić opened the scoring in the second half, becoming the oldest player to score in the history of the European Championships. His top-shelf goal seemed to set Croatia on course for a crucial victory, a fitting achievement for the veteran midfielder who has been a stalwart for his national team.

As the match progressed, Italy struggled to break down a solid Croatian defense. However, the introduction of fresh legs by Italian manager Luciano Spalletti proved pivotal. Eight minutes into injury time, Zaccagni seized his moment, curling a right-footed shot from the left side of the penalty area into the top-right corner, securing a vital point for Italy.

Italy’s forward Mateo Retegui expressed immense satisfaction with the team’s performance: “It was a great satisfaction, we are very happy because we played against a team of great quality, demonstrating all our personality after the defeat against Spain.” Defender Riccardo Calafiori echoed these sentiments, highlighting the team’s deserving attitude and determination.

Zaccagni, the hero of the match, described his goal as an “indescribable emotion,” while Italy’s boss Spalletti praised his substitutes, calling them “giants in terms of what they showed.”

For Croatia, the result was a bitter pill to swallow. Defender Marin Pongracic struggled to find words to describe the team’s disappointment, stating, “It’s hard to find the words after this. We are all very disappointed, this was like a big final match for us. We wanted that win more than anything else.”

Luka Modrić labeled football “cruel and merciless” after their last-gasp elimination. “We kept battling right until the end but unfortunately football was merciless tonight, football was cruel,” he lamented. Croatian manager Zlatko Dalic was visibly frustrated, particularly with the eight minutes of added time, which he deemed excessive and unfair.

Italy now prepares to face Switzerland in the knockout stages, carrying the momentum from their dramatic draw. Spalletti emphasized the need for improvement despite the positive result, stating, “We have superior qualities than what we have seen. We need to do more.”

For Croatia, the focus shifts to analyzing what went wrong and preparing for future challenges. The team showed great spirit and quality but fell short in critical moments.

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