Euro 2024: Croatia and Albania Draw 2-2 in Thrilling Group of Death Encounter

By Score More

In an exhilarating match in the so-called ‘Group of Death’ at Euro 2024, Croatia and Albania battled to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday afternoon. The game, part of the second round of Group B, featured a dramatic late equalizer from Gjasula, who redeemed himself after scoring an own goal earlier in the match.

This tournament could signal the end of an era for Croatia’s “golden generation.” With an average starting lineup age of 30, key players like Modric, Perisic, and Brozovic appear to be past their prime.

Albania made surprising changes from their first match, opting for a more mobile attack. Notably, Armando Broja, a standout forward, was benched in favor of Rey Manaj, who impressed against Italy. Seferi, who shone in the first game, was replaced by Qazim Laçi.

Croatia also made significant adjustments—Juranovic replaced Josip Stanisic, and Perisic moved to left back with Gvardiol shifting to the center of defense. Budimir, who missed a penalty against Spain, made way for Petkovic, though Budimir would later play a crucial role.

Croatia struggled to penetrate Albania’s defense despite building from the back, while Albania sought to create danger through direct play down the wings. This approach paid off when Asani, from the right flank, delivered a precise cross that Laçi headed home to open the scoring.

Croatia’s response was muted, with a tame shot from Marcelo Brozovic, but Livakovic prevented a second Albanian goal with a superb save on a counterattack. Asllani, sporting personalized Super Mario boots, couldn’t beat Livakovic one-on-one.

In the second half, Croatia’s coach Zlatko Dalic introduced Luka Sucic and Mario Pasalic to add dynamism to the midfield. Croatia emerged more dangerous, forcing Strakosha into two difficult saves. Sucic, in particular, was lively and created problems for Albania’s defense.

Croatia’s persistence paid off in the 70th minute when Andrej Kramaric, celebrating his birthday, found space in the box and, after a one-touch play, scored the equalizer. The assist came from Budimir, who had just entered the game.

Two minutes later, Budimir again made an impact by setting up Luka Sucic, whose deflected shot resulted in an own goal by Gjasula, giving Croatia the lead. However, the drama continued. In the 90+4 minute, Gjasula redeemed himself by scoring the equalizer for Albania, finishing a low cross that Croatia’s defense failed to clear.

With this result, both Albania and Croatia have one point each after losing their opening matches. They now await the outcome of the Spain-Italy match, the other Group B contenders, who each have three points.

Man of the Match:

While Albania’s goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha made several crucial saves, Ante Budimir stood out for his immediate impact on the game, creating both goals intelligently after coming on as a substitute.

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