EURO 2024 Group B: Spain Top Group; Croatia Suffer Heartbreaking Exit

Spain Croatia
Spain Croatia

Spain, Albania, Croatia, and Italy were all in action on Monday, June 24, to finalize the order and tally of EURO 2024 Group B. Having already topped their group, La Roja were looking to become the first team in EURO 2024 to win their third consecutive game. Italy, meanwhile, were fighting to keep Croatia at bay, knowing a draw would be enough to carry them through to the Round of 16.

Spain Claim Routine Win Over Albania To Secure Perfect EURO 2024 Record

Luis de la Fuente made a whopping 10 changes to his side for the dead rubber against Albania, with only Aymeric Laporte featuring from the XI that started in the 1-0 victory over Italy last week. Despite so many changes, Spain did not lose their silky touch, creating their first goalscoring opportunity just 12 minutes in. Make-shift right-back Jesus Navas swung a brilliant cross into the area, hoping to assist Mikel Merino. The Real Sociedad defensive midfielder met with Navas’ delivery but could not keep his effort on target.

Spain, however, had their noses in front just a few seconds later, courtesy of a brilliant bit of play by Dani Olmo and Ferran Torres. Olmo played a delectable through ball into the Albanian box, allowing Torres to pick it up and steer it into the left corner of the goal.

Albania’s only opportunity of the half came in the 45th minute, as Kristjan Asllani tested David Raya with an outside-the-box effort.

Joselu and Olmo had a couple of decent chances to add to Spain’s advantage in the second half but ultimately failed to convert. With the 1-0 victory in the bag, Spain became the first EURO 2024 team to make it 3 out of 3. Albania, meanwhile, crashed out of the competition with only a point to their name.

Heartbreak For Luka Modric’s Croatia As Italy Equalize In Injury Time

Knowing only a win would extend their EURO 2024 journey, Luka Modric’s Croatia took on Gianluigi Donnarumma’s Italy on Matchday 3 of Group B. Croatia had a decent start to the game, but Italy created the first opportunity of the night in the 21st minute. Riccardo Calafiori swung in a fine cross into the area, aiming to assist Mateo Retegui. The Genoa striker timed his jump just right to meet the cross but failed to keep his attempt on target.

Seven minutes later, Nicolo Barella picked out Alessandro Bastoni in the area, and the formidable center-back directed his thumping header toward goal. Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, however, was equal to the effort and denied him from close range.

In the 54th minute, Modric had the opportunity to fire Croatia in front from the penalty spot. The Real Madrid midfielder, however, failed to beat Donnarumma, with the Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper lunging to the bottom-left corner to deny him. The 38-year-old made amends the following minute, firing Ante Budimir’s rebound into the roof of the Italian net.

Italy frantically searched for the equalizer for the following 35 minutes, but a stubborn Croatia kept them at bay. Their resistance finally cracked in the eighth minute of added time, as Calafiori drove through midfield to set up Mattia Zaccagni for the equalizer.

The 1-1 draw ensured Italy will move into the Round of 16 as runners-up of Group B. Croatia, meanwhile, now need England to beat Slovenia by at least three goals and Turkiye to claim a victory over Czechia to progress to the Round of 16 as the fourth-best third-placed team.

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