Croatia and Albania draw 2-2, leaving both in difficult spot in Group B

Croatia and Albania drew 2-2 in an intense battle at Euro 2024 on Wednesday, a result that could make it difficult for both teams to survive the group stage.

In the first ever competitive match between the two Balkan teams, Croatia tried to set the pace from the start, but it was Albania’s Qazim Laci who scored first, heading in a cross from the right flank in the 11th minute.

Andrej Kramaric equalized about half an hour into the second half and an own goal by Klaus Gjasula made it 2-1 for Croatia just two minutes later.

Gjasula redeemed himself by scoring Albania’s equalizer in injury time.

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The result leaves both Croatia and Albania in a precarious situation in Group B after they lost to Spain and Italy, respectively, in their first matches.

The Albanians, who are ahead of Croatia on goal difference in the group standings, celebrated the most after the match, while Luka Modric and his teammates looked disappointed as they applauded the Croatian fans.

The Volksparkstadion in Hamburg was split evenly between red-clad Albania fans and spectators in Croatia’s checkered shirt providing a loud and energetic atmosphere throughout the match.

Berat Djimsiti Bruno Petkovic Croatia Albania Euro 2024 soccer tournament Hamburg Germany Group B matchLAPRESSE

Fans in Croatia’s section set off flares repeatedly, despite warnings over the loudspeakers that it would result in disciplinary action.

Croatia struggled to create chances in the first half and could have faced a greater deficit but goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic blocked a shot from Kristjan Asllani and a header from Rey Manaj to keep it 1-0 at halftime.

The Croatians came out with more energy in the second half and turned the match around in two minutes. Kramaric equalized with a shot just inside the post. And just moments later Gjasula was unlucky when Albania tried to clear the ball from the penalty area but it bounced off him and into the net for the fourth own goal of the tournament.

At that point Croatia seemed to be in control but Gjasula‘s strike five minutes into injury time made it 2-2 to the delight of the Albanian fans.

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