'Unreal' injury-time equaliser saves football powerhouse

Italy substitute Mattia Zaccagni scored in the last minute of stoppage time for Italy to advance to the knockout stage of Euro 2024 after drawing Croatia 1-1.

Luka Modric’s second-half strike looked like sending Croatia through as the Group B runner-up, but Zaccagni swept a brilliant shot inside the far post in the eighth minute of added time 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, putting them at the mercy of other results if they are to scrape through as one of the best third-place finishers.

Italy will next face Switzerland in the round of 16 on Saturday in Berlin's Olympiastadion, where the final is on July 14.

Modric scored 33 seconds after having a penalty saved by Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to become the oldest goal-scorer ever at the tournament.

Modric, at 38 years, 289 days on Monday, broke the record held by Ivica Vastic, who was 38 years, 257 days, when he scored for Austria against Poland at Euro 2008.

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After Modric’s penalty miss, Croatia immediately attacked again and Donnarumma had to save a shot by Ante Budimir. Modric pounced on the rebound in the 55th minute.

The goal sent showers of beer into the sky as ecstatic Croatian fans jettisoned the cups they were holding in the celebrations.

'unreal' injury-time equaliser saves football powerhouse

Teammates cleared the benches after momentous goal.

Alessandro Bastoni headed just over in response as the Italians suddenly found themselves in need of a goal. Defeat could have seen the defending champion knocked out depending on results in other games.

Modric turned his skills to defence until he went off to standing ovations in the 80th.

But Italy maintained its pressure and it finally paid off at the last possible moment with Zaccagni’s curling shot.

"Immense satisfaction, I'm excited, it's a beautiful evening," Zaccagni said after the match.

"It was important to draw to qualify in second place. We did well to stay in the game with a great second half. We deserved this draw.

"The coach did well to create this group, we will try to repay him on the pitch."

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