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Croatia 1-1 Italy: Mattia Zaccagni’s Last-Second Equalizer Sends Italy to Round of 16, Breaks Croatian Hearts

Croatia 1-1 Italy: Mattia Zaccagni's Last-Second Equalizer Sends Italy to Round of 16, Breaks Croatian Hearts

In a dramatic Euro 2024 match in Leipzig, Italy secured a spot in the last 16 with a last-second equalizer from Mattia Zaccagni, resulting in a 1-1 draw against Croatia. Luka Modric had put Croatia ahead in the 54th minute, rebounding from a missed penalty to score, but Zaccagni’s 98th-minute goal dashed Croatian hopes.

The game saw Croatia, led by their 38-year-old captain Modric, take a 1-0 lead when he converted a rebound after Gianluigi Donnarumma saved his penalty. Despite Italy’s relentless attacks, it wasn’t until the dying moments of the match that Zaccagni found the net, curling a right-footed shot into the far corner.

The draw leaves Italy in second place in Group B, behind Spain, and they will now face Switzerland in the last 16. Croatia, with only two points and a -3 goal difference, are unlikely to advance as one of the best third-placed teams and need multiple results to go in their favor, including a substantial win by England over Slovenia.

The Croatian players were devastated at the final whistle, knowing their chances of progressing are slim. Modric, who was given a standing ovation when substituted, reflected on the heartbreak of another last-minute setback, reminiscent of past disappointments for his team. Despite rumors of his retirement, Modric expressed a desire to continue playing, although this match may mark his last major tournament appearance.

Italy, on the other hand, celebrated their escape from elimination but face scrutiny over their performance. Zaccagni’s goal, his first international strike, transformed the match narrative, ensuring Italy’s progression while delivering a cruel blow to Croatia’s campaign.

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