Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Croatia 2-2 Albania: Gjasula the hero as he salvages late point for Eagles

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 19 Jun 2024

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Klaus Gjasula went from villain to hero for Albania after cancelling out his own goal with an equaliser in stoppage time to salvage a point in a 2-2 draw with Croatia.

It looked like Ante Budimir had inspired Croatia to a comeback win, playing a part in two goals in two minutes after Qazim Laci’s early strike, but they could not hold on.

Albania led after just 11 minutes as Jasir Asani curled a delightful cross into the near post for Laci, who glanced his header past Dominik Livakovic at his near post.

They should have been 3-0 up at the break; Croatia were cut open by Asani’s throughball, but Kristjan Asllani’s drilled effort was straight at the goalkeeper, who later held onto Rey Manaj’s flicked header.

Zlatko Dalic’s side came out determined for the second half, but it was not until Budimir’s introduction in the 69th minute that it all came together.

Five minutes later, he deftly flicked the ball to Kramaric, who wrong-footed Thomas Strakosha to slot an equaliser into the bottom corner to mark his 33rd birthday.

Just like against Italy on Saturday, Albania struggled to regain their composure. Moments later, Budimir’s cutback was struck by Luka Susic, but Berat Djimsiti’s block bounced off the unfortunate Gjasula and into the back of the net.

Deep into stoppage time, Gjasula atoned for that incident, latching onto Mario Mitaj’s cross to sweep a low shot past Livakovic and into the bottom-left corner.

Data Debrief: Substitutes light up the game

Gjasula is just the second player to score a goal and an own goal in a single game at the Euros, after Anton Ondrus for Czechoslovakia against the Netherlands in 1976.

Despite only playing for 21 minutes, Budimir’s introduction also proved an inspired choice by Dalic. Only Andrej Kramaric (three in 90 minutes) created more chances for Croatia than the substitute (two).

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