Croatia vs Albania 2-2: Gjasula Emerges as Hero with Last-Minute Equalizer for the Eagles

Croatia was on the brink of their inaugural Euro 2024 victory, yet Klaus Gjasula flipped the script, ensuring Albania snagged a precious point in Group B.

Klaus Gjasula turned hero for Albania, nullifying his earlier mishap with a last-gasp leveller to secure a 2-2 draw with Croatia.

Ante Budimir seemed poised to lead Croatia to a stirring turnaround after participating in back-to-back goals, following Qazim Laci’s opener, yet their lead slipped away.

Albania seized the early momentum with Jasir Asani’s sublime cross at 11 minutes, allowing Laci to nudge the ball past Dominik Livakovic.

By halftime, Albania might have led by three. Asani sliced through Croatia’s defense, but Kristjan Asllani’s powerful shot met the keeper’s hands, as did Rey Manaj’s deft header.

Zlatko Dalic’s squad returned after the break with renewed vigor. However, the game’s tide turned with Budimir’s 69th-minute entry.

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Five minutes post-substitution, Budimir assisted Kramaric, who craftily dodged Thomas Strakosha to tie the game, celebrating his 33rd birth anniversary.

Similar to their previous matchup against Italy, Albania found themselves rattled. Shortly thereafter, Budimir orchestrated another attack which, after several deflections, saw Gjasula accidentally scoring an own goal.

In the dying moments, Gjasula redeemed himself, connecting with Mario Mitaj’s cross to fire a decisive shot into the lower-left corner.

Data Debrief: Substitutes Spark Brilliance

Gjasula joined an exclusive club, becoming only the second player to score both a goal and an own goal in the same Euros match, a feat first achieved by Anton Ondrus in 1976.

Despite a brief 21-minute appearance, Budimir’s entry was a tactical masterstroke by Dalic. He trailblazed opportunities for Croatia, bested only by Andrej Kramaric who crafted three chances in the full 90.