Euro 2024 - Croatia 2-2 Albania: Late Klaus Gjasula Equalizer Secures Deserved Point

Klaus Gjasula's stoppage-time goal earned Albania a 2-2 draw against Croatia in a thrilling Group B match at Euro 2024. After Qazim Laci's early goal for Albania, Croatia responded with two quick goals in the second half. Gjasula's late equalizer ensured Albania took a well-deserved point.

Euro 2024 - Croatia 2-2 Albania: Late Klaus Gjasula Equalizer Secures Deserved Point

In an exhilarating Group B encounter at the Imtech Arena, Croatia and Albania played out a dramatic 2-2 draw in front of a crowd of 46,784. Klaus Gjasula's stoppage-time equalizer ensured Albania took a well-earned point from the game.

Match Overview

The match kicked off with high expectations as both teams aimed to secure their first points in Euro 2024. Croatia, with experienced stars like Luka Modrić and Andrej Kramarić, were expected to dominate, but Albania, under the guidance of Sylvinho, proved to be resilient and tactically astute.

First Half: Early Albanian Lead

Albania stunned Croatia early on, continuing their trend of scoring early goals in the tournament. In the 11th minute, Qazim Laci nodded home a superb cross from Kristjan Asllani, giving Albania an unexpected 1-0 lea. Albania's high tempo and organized defence frustrated Croatia, who failed to register a shot on target in the first half.

Second Half: Croatia’s Comeback

The second half saw a rejuvenated Croatian side. Andrej Kramarić, celebrating his 33rd birthday, equalized for Croatia in the 74th minute with a calm finish after being found in space. Just two minutes later, a Croatian attack led to a mix-up in the Albanian defence, resulting in an own goal by Klaus Gjasula, putting Croatia 2-1 ahead.

Stoppage-Time Drama

As the game seemed to be slipping away from Albania, they pressed forward for an equalizer. In the 95th minute, Gjasula redeemed himself by scoring a dramatic equalizer. Mario Mitaj sent in a precise cross, which Gjasula converted, ensuring Albania earned a valuable point.

Key Performances

  • Andrej Kramarić: Kramarić was instrumental in Croatia's comeback, scoring the first goal and being involved in the second. His experience and composure were crucial in the second half.
  • Qazim Laci: Laci continued his fine form in Euro 2024, scoring another early goal and showcasing his aerial ability and timing.
  • Klaus Gjasula: Despite the own goal, Gjasula’s late equalizer was vital for Albania, demonstrating his resilience and fighting spirit.

Post-Match Reactions

Croatia’s coach, Zlatko Dalić, expressed mixed feelings post-match, acknowledging the team's improved second-half performance but lamenting the lost points due to the late equalizer. "The first half was very bad and the second much better, which is encouraging for the match with Italy. We invested a lot of energy to lead 2-1 and then conceded a goal in added time. It's difficult to accept," Dalić said.

Albania’s manager, Sylvinho, praised his team’s effort and determination. "I am very happy with the team. I think we deserved the result. We fought with heart, and this point will serve this team for the rest of their lives," Sylvinho remarked.

Looking Ahead

Croatia and Albania registered their first points of Euro 2024 and remain two points behind Spain and Italy, who play each other next. Croatia will need to improve its performance against Italy to keep its qualification hopes alive, while Albania will look to build on this result in their upcoming match against Spain.

Match Statistics

  • Goals: Croatia 2-2 Albania
  • Shots: Croatia 22, Albania 15
  • Shots on Target: Croatia 10, Albania 7
  • Possession: Croatia 67%, Albania 33%
  • Successful Passes: Croatia 572, Albania 247
  • Corners Won: Croatia 3, Albania 1

This pulsating draw opens Group B, with Croatia and Albania showing they can compete at this level. Fans can expect more thrilling encounters and unexpected twists as the tournament progresses.