Euro 2024: Italy Join Spain in Knockout Round With Zaccagni’s Late Equaliser, Croatia, Albania Crash Out

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Spain have sealed their place as Euro 2024 Group B winners with maximum 9 points after a win over Albania while Zaccagni’s late equaliser bundles Croatia out of the competition.

Albania 0-1 Spain

Spain have maintained a perfect record in the group stages of Euro 2024 after a narrow 1-0 victory over Albania in Group B final round of matches. Unlike the other simultaneous Group B clash between Croatia and Italy, La Roja went into this game as favourites, having won their two matches against Croatia and Italy.

Albanians still stood a chance to qualify for the round of 16 going into the match after they only lost to Italy and drew Croatia. However, they needed a win against the star-studded Spanish side, who emerged as the best team in the group after their past two matches.

Euro 2024 Spain Italy

As expected, the three-time champions started on a good note dominating proceedings and were looking set to take the lead. After a marathon of pressure which saw Albanian commit more bodies to the low block, La Roja finally found the back of the net, thanks to a cool 13th-minute finish by Ferran Torres. Albania did little to mount a response but made well their efforts to stop the Spaniards from scoring more goals.

Ferran Torres’ 13th-minute strike was all Spain needed to make it a perfect group stage with three wins in three matches to top the group.

Euro 2024 Group B Result: Croatia 1-1 Italy

In the other group match, Croatia traded tackles with Italy for a place in the knockout round. The Italians needed a draw to book a slot in the next round of the competition provided Spain won or drew Albania in the other encounter. In contrast, it was a must-win for Croatia if they wanted to qualify for the next round of the competition.

As expected, it was a tight affair at the RB Leipzig Stadium at Red Bull Arena. The two sides squared up in a tight affair that saw them unable to find the back of the net throughout the first half.

Euro 2024 Spain Italy

Croatia was the dominated side in the first 45 minutes. They struggled with only two shots – all outside and could not make a headway through Italy’s solid backline. Meanwhile, the Luciano Spalletti side were enjoying a good spell of possession and were the most likely to take the lead. However, luck shone on them and they were able to run away with a barren draw at the end of the first 45 minute.

In the second half, Italy continued from where they stopped but were dealt a big blow in the 52nd minute when they conceded a cheap penalty. Kramaric had latched on are a rebound from Brozovic and the ball struck Frattesi’s arms inside the penalty area. The referee did not award the penalty initially but finally did after a VAR check.

Luka Modric took the spot-kick but failed to beat Donnarumma, who saved it. Modric would later make up for his missed penalty, scoring a minute late to give Croatia the lead. The Croatians just needed a few seconds to hold on and book a place in Euro 2024 knockout but were finally pegged to a draw and bundled out of the competition just at the last touch of the game.

Zaccagni’s 90+8th-minute goal finally did the magic for Italy, salvaging a late draw for the defending champions to seal their place in the knockout round.

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