Croatia Faces Elimination at EURO 2024 After a Heartbreaking Final-Minute Draw Against Italy

Luka Modric of Croatia during the UEFA EURO 2024 Germany Group B football match between Croatia and Italy in June 2024
Luka Modric of Croatia during the UEFA EURO 2024 Germany Group B football match between Croatia and Italy in June 2024. Photo by FRANCESCO FARINA/SPP/Shutterstock (14556427af)

EURO 2024 produced another exciting affair on Monday. Croatia, who finished second at the 2018 World Cup and third at the 2022 World Cup, is facing elimination from the tournament following a heartbreaking final-minute draw against Italy in the last match of Group B.

With losses to Spain and a draw with Albania in the first two matches of the group stage, Croatia needed a win against Italy to secure a place in the knockout stage.

After a goalless first half, Croatia was awarded a penalty in the 54th minute following Davide Frattesi’s handball in the penalty area. Real Madrid’s midfielder Luka Modric stepped to take the penalty kick but saw his shot defended by goalie Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Just a minute later, Modric had his redemption. Donnarumma saved a shot from Ante Budimir but the ball got deflected towards Modric, who had little trouble placing it in the net. At the age of 38 years and 289 days, Modric became the oldest goalscorer in EURO history.                                                             

After getting the lead, Croatia turned to defense while Italy struggled to create chances. Croatia held a win and ticket to the knockout stage until the last minute of added time before Italy’s midfielder Mattia Zaccagni spoiled their celebration.

In the 98th minute, in what was probably the last attack for Italy, Zaccagni received the ball in the penalty box after confusion among Croatia’s defenders and scored a stunning curler in the top right corner.

With the 1-1 draw, Italy finished second in Group B with four points and will play Switzerland in the Round of 16. Spain finished first after a 0-1 win over Albania, while Croatia is now third with just two points.

Croatia could still theoretically make it to the knockout stage, but that scenario is unlikely, considering several other results have to fall in their favor.

Jasmin can write about almost everything expect about himself. All you need to know is that he likes music, Nutella stuffed pancakes and sleeping till noon on Sundays.