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Euro 2024 – Croatia 2-2 Albania: Late Klaus Gjasula equaliser secures Albania deserved point in Group B

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Report from Euro 2024 as Qazim Laci scored another early goal for Albania; Croatia scored twice in three minutes through Andrej Kramaric and Klaus Gjasula own goal but Gjasula’s late strike for Albania saw them take a point from Group B game

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Klaus Gjasula’s late equaliser secured a deserved point for Albania as they drew 2-2 with Croatia in a pulsating Group B encounter.

After scoring the fastest goal at a European Championships against Italy in their opening game, Albania followed it up with another early strike. Kirstjan Asllani sent in a wonderful ball from the right, which Qazim Laci (11) nodded home.

They continued to impress in the first half – missing a string of glorious opportunities – while Croatia failed to register a shot on target.

But Croatia scored two quick-fire goals in an improved second half to see themselves ahead. Andrej Kramaric calmly slotted home (74) on his 33rd birthday, before his shot ricocheted off Albania’s Klaus Gjasula and into the back of the net two minutes later.

It looked like Albania would once again fall to a 2-1 defeat. But after two huge chances in added time, they finally scored a deserved equalised as Gjasula redeemed himself. Mario Mitaj sent in a fine ball for the midfielder to sweep home.

Croatia and Albania both register their first points of Euro 2024, and remain two points behind Spain and Italy, who play each other on Thursday at 8pm.

Sylvinho and awesome Albania are flourishing

Sylvinho was awarded honorary Albanian citizenship for the work he achieved leading Albania to these finals. They topped their group. Many had labelled them the whipping boys at this tournament. Instead, led by their clearly talented manager, they have given both Italy and Croatia huge problems despite clear inferiority in individual talent.

We could just be dealing with a top-class operator here in the former Arsenal and Barcelona full-back. He’s already very experienced having worked as an assistant to Roberto Mancini at Inter Milan and Tite with the Brazilian national team. However, sacked after just 141 days with Lyon and just nine months in Brazil with Corinthians has signalled a perhaps failed managerial career.

The way he has set up Albania, especially against Croatia where he seized upon the ageing limbs in opposition by counter attacking with great pace and purpose, indicated a talented coach. This just might be the start of Sylvinho managing at the elite level of European football. Clubs will be watching.

Sylvinho: I will remember this game for all my life

Albania manager Sylvinho: “I am very happy with the team, I think we have deserved [the result]. We fought with heart and it is exactly what represents this nation.

“This point will serve this team for the rest of their life. We are a young national team, this is only the second time being in this competition. We have to enter the pitch and use every moment to fight with heart and to take lessons from Euro.

“This is a game that I will remember all my life.”

Sylvinho xxx
Image:Sylvinho praised his team after a late draw against Croatia

Albania goalscorer Qazim Laci: “This result will give us a confidence to move forward, to believe in ourselves. The game with Spain will be more difficult but we will give the maximum to have a victory.”

Albania goalscorer Klaus Gjasula: “2-2 is okay. With a little luck, we could had scored the third one also. We know that the game with Spain is very difficult, but in football everything is possible. If we will play like today, everything can happen.”

Sucic: Huge disappointment with late equaliser

Croatia midfielder Luka Sucic: “The disappointment is huge, something like this must not happen to a team like us. We were leading and should have ended this calmly, but this is a lesson to learn.

“The second half was better, it is a direction on how to start against the Italians. I believe in our qualities, I am an optimist, if we play like in the second half we will surely pass this group.”

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic: “This was a difficult match, with two totally different halves. A lot of energy was invested to lead 2-1 and then we get goal in added time. It is difficult to get a goal in the last minute.

“The first half was very bad and the second much better, which is encouraging for the match with Italy, the victory over Italy will take us further. We are still in game, we shall prepare and do all in our power to go on.”

Croatia's Andrej Kramaric, right, celebrates with teammate Luka Sucic after scoring their side's first goal during a Group B match between Croatia and Albania at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Hamburg, Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Image:Andrej Kramaic scored in the second half to equalised for Croatia

Croatia goalscorer Andrej Kramaric: “In the first half, we couldn’t create anything. In the second half, of course it was a different image. We were much more aggressive, dominant.

“What I want to say is that this is football, this is why everyone loves football. In the last seconds, sometimes you score a goal to win, sometimes you concede. Unfortunately that is what happened to us.”

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