Football

CRO 1-1 ITA, Euro 2024: Super Sub Zaccagni Eager 'To Repay Spalletti' After Italy Seal Last-16 Berth

Luciano Spalletti is overseeing Italy's fortunes at a major tournament for the first time and, following his last-gasp heroics at Euro 2024 against Croatia, Mattia Zaccagni saluted the former Napoli boss

Mattia Zaccagni was the hero for Italy.
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Mattia Zaccagni says he and Italy are eager to repay head coach Luciano Spalletti, after the substitute's dramatic late equaliser against Croatia sent the Azzurri through to the Euro 2024 knockout stages. (More Football News)

The reigning champions appeared set to finish third in Group B and face a potentially nervous wait for confirmation of their fate, as they trailed to Luka Modric's goal in Leipzig.

However, in the eighth minute of stoppage time, substitute Zaccagni made himself the hero, curling a stunning first-time shot beyond Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.

Snatching second place from under the 2018 World Cup finalists' nose, Italy kept their title defence alive and will play Switzerland in the last 16 on Saturday.

Spalletti is overseeing the Azzurri's fortunes at a major tournament for the first time and, following his last-gasp heroics, Zaccagni saluted the former Napoli boss.

"[I feel] immense satisfaction," he said. "I'm excited, it's a beautiful evening. 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."

Spalletti added: "There are things that happen in our matches that are illogical, but we need to take what the boys have in their qualities and put them in a position to express themselves at their best.

"We passed through the group stage on merit. Now, we will have a chance to think about the next match."

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