Croatia 1 – 1 Italy

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

Luka Modric’s dramatic first goal looked set to send Croatia to the last 16, 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 an extra-time equalizer against Albania, now need England to beat Slovenia by at least three goals on Tuesday if they are to advance as one of the best third-placed teams.

With time running out, Italy was desperate. Gianluigi Donnarumma had saved Modric’s second-half penalty after Davide Frattesi was penalized for handball following a VAR check, but the 38-year-old magician converted from close range 33 seconds later before celebrating excitedly with his teammates.

When Modric was substituted with 10 minutes left in regulation time, the Croatian fans gave him a standing ovation. It looked like his final moment of magic would send Croatia once again on a major knockout adventure in a major tournament. Instead, his 178th cap appears to be his last appearance in a major tournament for his country.

Alessandro Bastoni wasted another great headed opportunity, which was brilliantly saved by Dominik Livakovic early on and Gianluca Scamacca failed to convert Federico Chiesa’s low cross as Italy frantically searched for a response. But it was substitute Zaccagni who scored his first international goal to transform the narrative.

Riccardo Calafiori stepped forward and then served to the Lazio winger through the left channel. His curling shot with his right foot was exquisite, doubling inside the far post. A beautiful moment, but a brutal blow for Croatia.

The joy… and the despair!

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The Italian Mattia Zaccagni achieves his brilliant equalizing goal in the last breath…

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

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni, top left, celebrates after scoring his team's first 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 of emotions was enormous…

Luka Modric of Croatia reacts at the end of the 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 in what will surely be his last appearance in a major tournament.

Analysis: Modric cruelly denied another magical night

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

Sky Sports’ Peter Smith:

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

He had become the oldest goalscorer at a European Championship when he made up for his missed penalty with a close-range shot and, when he was applauded at the end, it looked like he had done the business for Croatia once again. The director of the Croatian play had reached the decisive moment. But dreams of reaching the depths of a major tournament again were shattered by Italy’s equalizer on practically the last shot of the match.

Modric, who was watching from the bench, was helpless. A big England win 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 continue playing for Real Madrid next season. After the match he was coy about his international future. But this could be the end of him on the international stage.

Star artist: Mattia Zaccagni

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni scores his team's first 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 scores his brilliant late equalizer

Sky Sports’ Peter Smith:

A name that many could be forgiven for not knowing before the start. A name that Croatian fans won’t be able to get out of their heads after this. Matía Zaccagni. The 29-year-old Lazio winger chose the perfect moment to score his first international goal in his seventh cap for Italy.

And what an ending it was. A wonderful, bending shot towards the far corner that contrasted with the rough, desperate football that Italy had produced after Modric’s first goal. Zaccagni won the goal of the season award in Serie A for a overhead kick in 2021. But this may be the one he treasures the most.

Statistics: History of the match

Final results of group B…

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