window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'G-QV9HFVZD64'); Zaccagni Stuns Croatia in 98th Minute to Help Italy Advance at Euros author - TELCOTELCO

Zaccagni Stuns Croatia in 98th Minute to Help Italy Advance at Euros

Mattia Zaccagni scored in the final minute of stoppage time, securing a crucial equalizer for Italy that broke Croatia’s hearts and ensured the defending champions advanced to the last 16 of Euro 2024.

Luka Modric’s second-half strike appeared to be sending Croatia through as the Group B runner-up. However, Zaccagni’s brilliant shot inside the far post in the eighth minute of added time concluded a dramatic finish for Italy.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic expressed dissatisfaction with the extensive added time following his team’s gritty performance.

“You can’t have eight minutes of added time after that game, it’s nonsense,” Dalic said. “There weren’t so many breaks in play, or so many fouls to justify that. I don’t want to cause a fuss but I think Croatia needs to be acknowledged and respected. We played for almost three hours.”

Italy needed a point to progress, while Croatia realistically required a win to remain in the tournament. With two points from three games, Croatia’s chances of advancing depended on other results to see if they could qualify as one of the best third-place finishers. Dalic seemed pessimistic about their prospects.

Italy will face Switzerland in the round of 16 on Saturday at Berlin’s Olympiastadion, where the final will be held on July 14.

“We were a bit soft at times in the game, we didn’t produce our best football,” Italy coach Luciano Spalletti said. “When you can afford to draw the game, that’s how it goes, you know a draw is enough, you are a bit more timid.”

Spalletti dismissed concerns about his team trailing going into stoppage time.

“Worries and concerns are part and parcel of this job,” Spalletti said. “We did what we needed to do.”

Modric scored 33 seconds after having a penalty saved by Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, becoming the oldest goal-scorer ever at the tournament. At 38 years and 289 days old on Monday, Modric broke the record held by Ivica Vastic, who was 38 years and 257 days old when he scored for Austria against Poland at Euro 2008.

After Modric’s penalty miss, Croatia quickly attacked again, and Donnarumma had to save a shot by Ante Budimir. Modric capitalized on the rebound in the 55th minute.

The goal sparked celebrations among Croatian fans, who threw their beer cups into the air in excitement.

Alessandro Bastoni headed just over the bar in response as Italy, now needing a goal, intensified their efforts. Defeat could have meant elimination for the defending champions, depending on other game results.

Modric contributed defensively until he left the field to standing ovations in the 80th minute.

“He wasn’t tired,” Dalic explained, adding that he wanted to give his star a rest.

Italy continued their pressure, which ultimately paid off in the last possible moment with Zaccagni’s curling shot.

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