Euro 2024 Group B: Zaccagni strikes late to send Italy to Round 16

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Euro 2024 Group B: Zaccagni strikes late to send Italy to Round 16

Luka Modric was nominated as the MVP in Croatia's devastating 1-1 draw against Italy in matchday 3 of Group C. Can it be described as the most heartbr

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Luka Modric was nominated as the MVP in Croatia’s devastating 1-1 draw against Italy in matchday 3 of Group C. Can it be described as the most heartbreaking MVP ever in the history of football?

Croatia had the majority of the ball but couldn’t show the right balance in the first half. They could not create clear goal-scoring opportunities compared to Italy who had less possession but showed great ambition towards scoring.

It was winner-take-all with Spain having already qualified and was likely La Roja were going to beat the lowly Albania.

The game sprung to life in the second half with the maestro Modric missing a crucial penalty for Croatia in the 54th minute. He went ahead to put his team ahead a minute later after firing the ball from close range under the roof of the net. The celebrations alone explained how meaningful the goal was to Modric and his teammates.

Italy needed to score at all costs to avoid the gruelling mathematics and the long anxiousness to learn their fate.

Spalletti’s charges pressed for an equaliser but Croatia remained resolute and compact.

Deep in the eighth minute of the additional minutes, the unthinkable happened as Croatia failed to keep the ball in Italy’s half. It led them to trouble because it made no sense to chase another goal while leading at this stage.

22-year-old Bologna’s incredible centre-back, Calafiori surged forward like a proper number 10, found Zaccagni on the left-hand side with a pin-point accurate pass, the Lazio forward opened his body and curled the ball to the left-up corner to level the score for the Azzurri.

The goal brought back memories of the 2006 FIFA World Cup when Del Pierro opened his body and finished Germany off in the semi-finals.

The elation on the Italian’s playing body and the fans were great while Croatia players broke down on the pitch with many shedding tears. Such an instance kills people’s interest in football. It ended 1-1 helping Italy finish second in the group.

Zaghreb will be sad until the tournament is over.

Mathematically, Croatia isn’t out and must wait and see if their 2 points can send them to the knockout stage. It is very unlikely that Luka Modric and Co will progress.

In the other game of the group, Barcelona forward Ferran Torres scored the only goal to help Spain beat Albania 1-0. The results mean that Albania is officially eliminated from Euro 2024.

Spain finished on top of the group with Italy finishing as runner-up. Croatia has a slim mathematical chance of progressing but it looks very unlikely.

Italy will face Switzerland on Saturday. The rest will learn about their opponents on either Tuesday or Wednesday for Round 16 and when exactly they will play.

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