Football

Croatia 1-1 Italy, Euro 2024: Modric Bemoans 'Cruel' Twist, Concedes He Cannot Go On Forever

Croatia looked set to finish as Group B runners-up behind Spain after Luka Modric's 55th-minute strike. But Mattia Zaccagni scored in the final minute of stoppage time as Italy broke Croatia’s hearts

Modric was left to wonder what might have been for Croatia.
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Luka Modric conceded he cannot go on forever as he was left to rue Italy's "cruel" last-gasp equaliser against Croatia, which leaves their hopes of progressing to the Euro 2024 knockout stages hanging by a thread. (More Football News)

The 2018 World Cup finalists looked set to finish as Group B runners-up behind Spain after Modric's 55th-minute strike - just moments after Gianluigi Donnarumma saved his penalty - put them a goal to the good in Leipzig.

However, there was to be a late twist when, in the eighth minute of stoppage time, substitute Mattia Zaccagni curled past Dominik Livakovic to snatch a share of the spoils - and second place from under Croatia's nose.

Amassing just two points, having also conceded a stoppage-time equaliser against Albania, Zlatko Dalic's side failed to win any of their group games at a European Championship for only the second time - also achieving the feat in 2004.

They can still qualify for the last 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams, but are relying on England beating Slovenia by a three-goal margin in Group C on Tuesday.

That means Modric could well have played his final match at a European Championship where, aged 38 years and 289 days, he became the oldest scorer, and only the second player after Cristiano Ronaldo (five) to find the net at four editions.

The Real Madrid midfielder is uncertain about his future.

"I'd like to keep playing forever, but there probably will come a time when I must hang up my boots," he said. "I'll keep playing on, but I don't know for how much longer.

"That was very stressful. We kept battling right until the end but, unfortunately, football was merciless with us tonight. It was cruel above all today, but also in our last match. when we also conceded a late goal.

"But that's part and parcel of football. Often, it gives you plenty of smiles, but on other occasions, it makes you very sad as it did today, losing in the manner we did.

"It's hard when you lose like this to find the words to describe how you feel. Of course, we need to bounce back. But that's the way it is.

"And as I said earlier, perhaps it's unfair because we all really fought for Croatia right from the first whistle until the last, and the result is what it is.

"The footballing gods don't necessarily always smile on us, but we should be proud of the way that we represented our country tonight."

Team-mate Luka Ivanusec added: "I'm empty, we don't know what to say. Until the last minute, we have everything. We are disappointed."

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