Euro 2024: Zaccagni’s Last-Minute Heroics Saves Italy’s Euros Dream

Italian hearts were stopped and then restarted in a thrilling finale on Monday as substitute Mattia Zaccagni scored a dramatic winner in the eighth minute of stoppage time to secure a 1-1 draw against Croatia and propel the defending champions into the knockout stages of Euro 2024.

The tension was thick at the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig as Italy, needing at least a point to progress from Group B, found themselves trailing to a second-half strike from the evergreen Luka Modric. Croatia, realistically needing a win to keep their tournament hopes alive, had taken control of the midfield thanks to Modric’s experience and composure.

Croatia Takes the Lead

The first half was a tight affair with both teams struggling to create clear opportunities. However, Croatia emerged stronger after the break, and their legendary midfielder Luka Modric put them ahead on the hour mark. Remarkably, this goal came just seconds after he had seen a penalty saved by the impressive Gianluigi Donnarumma in the Italian net.

This strike made Modric, at 38 years and 289 days old, the oldest player ever to score at the Euros, surpassing the previous record held by Ivica Vastic.

Italy Ramps Up the Pressure

Italy, needing at least a draw to progress, poured forward in search of an equalizer. Alessandro Bastoni nearly grabbed it with a header that sailed just over the bar. The tension mounted as the clock ticked down, and the reigning champions faced a potential early exit.

Zaccagni’s Moment of Glory

Just when all hope seemed lost, Zaccagni, who had come on as a substitute, emerged as Italy’s savior. In the dying moments of the game, he unleashed a magnificent curling effort that found the back of the net, sending the Italian fans into a frenzy. This dramatic equalizer secured a vital point and propelled them into the next round.

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Croatia’s Fate Uncertain

The result left Croatia’s fate hanging in the balance. While they secured a second-place finish in Group B, their qualification for the knockout stages depended on the outcome of other matches.

This match will be remembered for Zaccagni’s incredible goal and the resilience shown by the Italian team. It also highlighted the enduring quality of Luka Modric, who defied his age with a superb performance.

Italy will now face a tough challenge in the next round, while Croatia head home disappointed. The Euros continue to provide heart-stopping drama, and Zaccagni’s injury-time winner will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most iconic moments of the tournament so far.

DISCLAIMER: This team is based on the understanding, analysis, and instinct of the author. While selecting your team, consider the points mentioned and make your own decision.

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