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Euro 2024 latest: Last-minute stunner sends Italy to knockouts after 1-1 draw against Croatia

Italian players celebrate after teammate Mattia Zaccagni scored during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at Euro 2024
Italian players celebrate after teammate Mattia Zaccagni scored during a Group B match between Croatia and Italy at Euro 2024 Copyright Petr David Josek/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Petr David Josek/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Alessio Dell'Anna with AP
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Lazio's Mattia Zaccani earns the Azzurri a precious point against Croatia to qualify for the knockouts, while Spain finish Group B first without conceding a single goal as they beat Albania 1-0.

Italy 1-1 Croatia: Last-gasp draw earns Italy round of 16 spot

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Italy seemed doomed to a long Euro 2024 qualification limbo till substitute Mattia Zaccagni equalised in the 98th minute to draw 1-1 against a combative Croatian side.

Luka Modrić’s second-half opening goal nearly sent Croatia through as the runner-up, but Lazio's winger swept a brilliant shot inside the far post to cap a furious finale from the defending champions.

Italy needed a point to progress, while Croatia realistically needed a win to stay in the tournament. The Croatians have two points from their three games and must wait on other results to see if it’s enough to scrape through as one of the best third-place finishers.

Italy's Mattia Zaccagni scores a 98th minute equaliser against Croatia
Italy's Mattia Zaccagni scores a 98th minute equaliser against CroatiaAP/Petr David Josek

Luciano Spalletti's Italian squad will now be playing Switzerland in Berlin on Saturday at 18.00 in the knockout stage opening game.

Despite not many goals being scored, the game was quite intense, particularly in the first half, and dominated by stunning saves from both Italy's Gianluigi Donnarumma and Croatia's Dominik Livaković.

Croatia confirmed being a tough opponent for Italy, as the Azzurri never succeeded in beating them in any major tournament so far.

Thanks to his goal, Croatia's 38-year-old captain Luka Modric became the oldest scorer in Euros history.

Italian players celebrate the 1-1 equaliser against Croatia
Italian players celebrate the 1-1 equaliser against CroatiaAP/Sergei Grits

Spain 1-0 Albania: La Roja finish perfect group stage

Despite changing almost the entire line-up, Spain continued their Euro 2024 winning streak with a 1-0 win over Albania.

With his team sure to finish top of Group B, Spain coach Luis de la Fuente made 10 changes to his starting eleven, and Spain won all three group games at the Euros for the first time since 2008, when they won the tournament.

A 13th-minute goal by Barcelona's Ferran Torres gave La Roja the three points and goalkeeper David Raya's stoppage-time save from Armando Broja ensured Spain completed the group stage without conceding a single goal.

Spain's Ferran Torres, right, scores his side's opening goal during a Group B match between Albania and Spain
Spain's Ferran Torres, right, scores his side's opening goal during a Group B match between Albania and SpainAP Photo/Martin Meissner

Spain confirmed their 100% win trend against Albania across all 9 official games played.

But this 1-0 victory was far less convincing than the victory by the same margin over Italy in their last game.

For much of the first half, Spain seemed on course for a big win, but Olmo and Mikel Merino in particular missed good chances, while Albania didn’t record a shot until the 45th minute.

They finally started to put pressure on Spain midway through the second half.

Heartbroken Albanian players following the defeat against Spain that knocks them out of Euro 2024
Heartbroken Albanian players following the defeat against Spain that knocks them out of Euro 2024AP/Manu Fernandez

De la Fuente responded by sending on forwards Alvaro Morata and Lamine Yamal off the bench.

The defeat means elimination and last place in Group B, for Albania. It also automatically qualifies France, England and the Netherlands for the next round.

“We left it all on the pitch. I have no regrets for my players,” Albania coach Sylvinho said.

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