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Euro 2024: Croatia 2-2 Albania

Albania scored an injury-time goal to earn a draw in Group B against Croatia.

Two late goals in as many minutes looked to be enough for Croatia to avoid the biggest upset in European Championship history as they came from behind to lead 2-1 with 14 minutes remaining.

As they did when they lost their first game against Italy, Albania took the lead in the Group B game in Hamburg with Qasim Laci’s header early on.

A strong and brilliant display saw them hold that until 16 minutes from time when Andrej Kramaric swept home an equalizer on his 33rd before Klaus Gjasula’s shock goal leveled the game.

However, five minutes into added time, Albania piled on the lead and Gjasula swept home the latest equalizer in European Championship history to spark wild celebrations.

It means Albania will need a win against Spain to have any chance of progressing to the Round of 16 in their last game, while Croatia can advance by beating Italy.

Dreams start with minnows

The team is ranked 65th in Fifa’s ratings they face 10th set Croatia up and made another good start.

Midfielder Laci was given a start in midfield by coach Sylvinho and he repaid his faith as he broke the deadlock on 11 minutes when he timed a fine run through a strong Croatian defense to head Jasir Asani’s curling ball under the goalkeeper’s arm. Dominik Livakovic, who might have done better.

Marcelo Brozovic pulled an effort home on 20 minutes as Croatia found their feet and Lovro Majer’s curling cross was headed in by Bruno Petkovic.

Elseid Hysaj, on the other hand, hit the crossbar for Croatia on the half-hour before Livakovic made a crucial effort to deny Kristjan Asllani after Asani’s cross was deflected into his own path. .

Thomas Strakosha collected a shot from Brozovic and Majer nodded to the side of the faithful when Croatia wanted to change the situation but the power of Albania made the veteran Modric and Mateo Kovacic look lazy, it is obvious that they learned a lesson by sitting back when they faced each other. Italy in their opening game on Saturday.

Albania continued to press and Manaj almost doubled the lead when his low ball was blocked by Livakovic in the first half.

Temporary changes pay dividends

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic withdrew Majer and Brozovic in favor of Luca Sucic and Mario Pasalic at halftime and Croatia was in the lead.

Sucic saw a curling left-footer split by Strakosha’s firm hand – their first shot was on target – and Pasalic missed the target within five minutes of the restart while Kovacic saw a 25-yard drive fed into the keeper’s arms.

Sucic’s cross was headed home by Petkovic and Luka Modric curled a corner into the goal which was somehow kept aside by Josip Sutalo from two yards out.

Ivan Perisic saw a deflected strike deflected in by Strakosha before Albania launched an attack in the half when Asllani’s shot from 25 yards was headed home by Livakovic.

Nedim Bajrami headed wide from the angle of the post and bar on 68 minutes after a good catch by Josko Gvardiol but it was mostly one-way traffic.

Albania’s resistance was finally broken in the 74th minute when the ball worked to Kramaric who turned and curled a low shot through the legs of defender Hysaj and inside the near post past the blind keeper.

Strakosha’s excellent hand blocked a quick second as he came out to block Ante Budimir but within two minutes Croatia were ahead when Budamir raced to the line and squared Luka Sucic who saw his shot blocked by captain Berat Djimsiti, only for the ball. hitting the net on the knee of defender Gjasula.

The latest drama

Croatia looked to put the game on ice and Modric fired a low effort past the post but Livakovic had to get down well in the dying seconds to deny ALBANIA while sub Mirlind Daku saw a shot blocked and connected the rebound.

A tense finish reached a crescendo when Gjasula burst into the box to leave his mark after pulling back from the left touchline to stun the 2018 World Cup runners-up.

There was still time for Kovacic to test Strakosha from distance before the final whistle ensured a point each which greatly helped the sides’ hopes of progressing.

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