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Euro 2024: Italy's last-minute heroics secure dramatic 1-1 draw against Croatia; heartbreak for Modric

In a thrilling Euro 2024 Group B clash at Red Bull Arena Leipzig, Italy and Croatia battled to a 1-1 draw that saw Italy snatch a crucial point in dramatic fashion on Monday night.

football Euro 2024: Italy's last-minute heroics secure dramatic 1-1 draw against Croatia; heartbreak for Modric snt
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First Published Jun 25, 2024, 2:54 AM IST

In a pulsating Euro 2024 Group B encounter held at the iconic Red Bull Arena Leipzig, Italy salvaged a crucial point against Croatia with a last-gasp equalizer, snatching a 1-1 draw on Monday night. Initially facing the prospect of settling for third place after Real Madrid legend Luka Modric's goal from a rebound off Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy staged a remarkable comeback. Mattia Zaccagni's stunning curling strike in stoppage time shattered Croatian hopes and propelled Italy into second place, turning the match on its head in the final moments.

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The highly-anticipated Euro 2024 encounter began with high intensity as both teams sought early dominance. Italy's stalwart goalkeeper Donnarumma showcased his prowess early on with a spectacular save, denying Luka Sucic's powerful long-range effort destined for the top corner.

Italy had their chances too, notably through Alessandro Bastoni, who squandered a golden opportunity with a point-blank header straight into Dominik Livakovic's hands, courtesy of a pinpoint cross from Nicolo Barella.

The game took a dramatic turn shortly after halftime when Croatia were awarded a penalty for a handball by Davide Frattesi. Luka Modric stepped up, but Donnarumma once again proved unbeatable, making a remarkable save to deny the Croatian captain. However, Ante Budimir's follow-up effort was also thwarted by Donnarumma, only for Modric to pounce on the rebound and give Croatia the lead.

With Italy facing the prospect of finishing third in the group, tension mounted as they pushed for an equalizer. Bastoni had another chance to redeem himself with another header, but the ball sailed over the bar, much to the frustration of coach Luciano Spalletti.

As the match entered its dying moments and Croatia looked set to secure a vital victory, Italy conjured up a moment of magic. In the 90th minute of stoppage time, Mattia Zaccagni delivered a stunning curling strike into the top corner, leaving Livakovic rooted to the spot and sending the Italian bench into jubilation.

The late equalizer not only salvaged a point for Italy but also propelled them into second place in the group standings, leapfrogging Croatia. The draw was a bitter pill for Croatia, who were moments away from celebrating their progression into the next round.

Italy's performance, although lackluster for much of the game, showcased their resilience and ability to capitalize on critical moments. The result sets up an intriguing final group stage match scenario, with both teams now looking ahead to their next challenges in the tournament.

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