EURO 2024: Utter Shock for Croatia as Italy Equalizes in Final Minute for 1-1

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

Photo by Slobodan Kadic

June 24, 2024 – A heartbreaking finish for Croatia who was up 1-0 until the 97th minute. All Croatia needed was a win to move to the round of 16. And now, they’re a step away from elimination.

It was D-Day for Croatia. The last round of Group B at EURO 2024. Sitting at the bottom of Group B with only 1 point collected in the tournament thus far after losing 3-0 to Spain and drawing against Albania 2-2, only a win against Italy tonight would send Croatia into the round of 16 as 2nd place in the group, so long as Albania didn’t beat Spain.

While a draw could potentially get Croatia through as one of the best 3rd place teams, Croatia would have to wait on how the other rounds finish to learn their fate – and nothing would be in their hands.

A win, and we’re in. That’s the only way to go into the Italy match.

Dalić had to change his tactics for this match to play for the win. He returned Pogrančić to the back line and brought in Sučić and Pašalić into the attack. Kramarić was played up top.

A win would send Croatia to the next round to play Switzerland in Berlin on June 29th, so long as Albania did not beat Spain.


CROATIA: Livaković – Stanišić, Pongracić, Šutalo, Gvardiol – Modrić, Kovačić, Brozović – Pašalić, Kramarić, Sučić

ITALY: Donnarumma, Di Lorenzo, Bastoni, Calafiori, Darmian, Jorginho, Barella, Pellegrini, Raspadori, Dimarco, Retegui

Match Report

Croatia played a beautiful possession game for the first four minutes, which finally ended with Italy’s first real touch on the ball – a goal kick after Luka tried playing Krama. In the next play, Gvardiol crossed to the right side and Sucic rocketed a left-footed shot at the Italy keeper from 20 meters out. Donnarumma got his fingertips on the ball and it went out for a corner.

Italy had their first attack in the 7th minute, but it was nothing the Croatia defense couldn’t clear. Pellegrini had a chance in the 11th minute but it went out for a goal kick.

Kramaric’s fancy footwork resulted in a shot that was cleared by the Italy defense.

In the other Group B match, Spain scored in the 13th minute against Albania.

Italy had its first corner in the 14th minute, but Luka’s masterclass took the ball back into Italy’s half.

There was another great attack for Croatia in the 17th minute thanks to high pressing. Croatia was playing brilliantly so far and we can only hope they keep it for the rest of the match.

Italy missed a chance in the 21st minute, heading wide of the goal. The ref signaled to a corner, which was questionable. Broz’s head was there to clear it out, then Italy played it back in and got another corner.

Another chance for Italy came in the 25th minute after Luka missed the ball in the midfield. Luckily Pograncic was there to defend the ball out for a corner. This was followed by an unreal Livakovic masterclass, saving a sure goal in the 27th minute.

Croatia needed the get their possession back after too many chances for Italy.

When Croatia held possession they were stunning to watch. Calm, controlled, and knew their next move before making it. We move up the pitch and into the box, but still didn’t have a good attempt on goal.

The ref, however, seemed to favor all fouls on Italy.

Italy had a weak shot on goal in the 36th minute which was no problem for Livakovic to save.

Croatia had another corner in the 37th minute which went out for a goal kick.

One last chance for Croatia during stoppage time but Pasalic played Broz a quick ball which went out for a goal kick. The match was 0-0 at halftime.

Dalic made one sub going into the second half – Budimir for Pasalic.

Gvardiol intercepted the ball from Italy at the halfway line and had a brilliant run through the middle of Italy’s half. He played Budimir on the left who played it back to Stanisic. He crossed back in too hard.

Another great attack forCroatia thanks to high pressing – Krama played with the ball around in the box and crossed to Budimir but he couldn’t get to it.

A clear handball in the box forced the ref to consult with VAR. And it was a penalty for Croatia. Donnarumma saved Luka’s shot, but Croatia managed to get the ball back and send it into the box. Luka redeemed himself big time, and with a mixup in front of the keeper, he scored for 1-0 Croatia!

Croatia needed to keep this lead and not concede a goal. There was a corner for Italy in the 61st minute which was headed over the goal.

Another corner for Italy in the 64th minute was cleared out by the Croatia defense. Stanisic saved the day on another Italy attempt two minutes later. And yet another Italy corner came in the 67th. The pressure was on.

Dalic subbed on Perisic for Sucic in the 70th minute. A great game for the 21-year-old. Kova was subbed off for Ivanusec.

A free kick for Italy was given in a very dangerous spot in the 71st minute. Luckily it deflected and went out for a corner.

The ref was again calling everything in Italy’s favor, but Croatia remained solid – calm and composed.

15 mins to go – could Croatia hold the lead?

A brilliant attack for Croatia came in the 80th minute. Broz crossed it in and it just missed Budimir’s head. Majer came on for Modric in the 80th minute, and the Croatia captain received a standing ovation. He passed the captain band onto Perisic.

Croatia almost made it 2-0 with a great action in the box – there were 8 minutes to go. And another great play in the 85th.

Italy had a brilliant chance which skid past the penalty area and went out for a goal kick. There were three minutes to go before stoppage time.

Dalic subbed off Kramaric for Juranovic in the final minute in an effort to keep the defense solid.

The ref added 8 minutes of stoppage time, which seemed like an awful lot for this half. Italy had another corner, and it was an absolute nail biter. Then the unthinkable happened – one minute to go, and Italy had a counter attack. A break in the defense, and a goal. It was 1-1 and the ref blew the final whistle.

Croatia now only has two points and needs to hope one of the other groups can help them out to be one of the best 3rd placed teams.

Luka was the player of the match and addressed the press after the match.

How does it feel to be oldest goal scorer in the Euros?

“It means nothing when you don’t get the result you want.”

An Italian reporter thanked Luka for his career and the joy he gave us watching him all these years. Will he continue playing for Croatia?

“I will continue with the national team for as long as I can.”

“This is really tough. It’s hard for me to find the words. We will need time to recover from this. We fought from the beginning, we gave everything we had. We thought we deserved more but that is football.”

“This result and the loss against Turkey in 2008 hurt the most in my national team career.”

Dalic spoke next.

“First I have to thank my team on a great game. Our plan was to control the game and take the lead. Unfortunately, in the last minute, we conceded a goal.”

What about the referee’s decisions?

“I have no idea how the ref found 8 minutes for injury time. I have said this time and time again. For FIFA and UEFA, we are a small country. Why are we one of the only top teams that played at 3 pm? No other top team did. We are small and always have to fight for ourselves.”

“Our problem is conceding goals. We need to work on that.”

Why did Luka come out?

“Luka came out because he was too tired. We needed fresh legs. We had fresh players in his position, and we needed that.”

How are the emotions?

“This one really hurts and will hurt for a long time.”


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