Albania equalise five minutes into stoppage time in Euro 2024 thriller against Croatia

Klaus Gjasula celebrates with his team-mates after scoring the equalising goal
Klaus Gjasula is mobbed by team-mates after scoring Albania's last-gasp equaliser - Getty Images

Albania equalised five minutes into added time to claim a 2-2 draw against Croatia in a thrilling contest which left both sides with much to do to progress to the last 16.

Klaus Gjasula went from villain to hero for Albania, netting the leveller after having earlier scored an own goal to put Croatia 2-1 up in the Group B clash.

Both countries now have a single point after their opening two matches and are left effectively needing to win their last group games on Monday.

No team has made the next round with two draws since the Euros expanded to 24 teams in 2016 – offering a place in the last 16 to the four best third-placed finishers.

Albania had taken an early lead but the Croats scored twice in the space of two minutes to revive their hopes in a match full of twists and turns and played to a backdrop of ear-splitting noise.

Andrej Kramaric grabbed a 74th-minute equaliser and then followed an own goal from Gjasula 120 seconds later as an increasingly dominant Croatia, who lost 3-0 to Spain in their opening game, clawed their way back.

Qazim Laci’s 11th minute header gave Albania an early lead, as had been the case against Italy in their opening game when they scored after just 23 seconds.

Albania’s gritty determination – and the speed with which they seized counterattacking opportunities – belied their lowly ranking, some 56 places below 10th-placed Croatia.

“This is why everyone loves football. In the last seconds, sometimes you score a goal to win, sometimes you concede,” said Kramaric.

Albania finish their group schedule against Spain in Duesseldorf on Monday and Gjasula said they held out hope.

“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,” he said.

Croatia will meet Italy in Leipzig at the same time with the odds against them.

“The first half was very bad but the second much better, which is encouraging for the match with Italy,” added Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic. “We are still in the game, we shall prepare and do all in our power to go on.”

Albania level late against Croatia: As it happened...

04:41 PM BST

End of an era for Croatian veterans?

They’ve done so much for their country, the likes of Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic and Luka Modric, but sitting at the foot of Group B with  a point to their name, it is looking increasingly likely they will be signing off their international careers in disappointment. They face Italy on Monday.

Luka Modric of Croatia leaves the stadium with the team
Luka Modric of Croatia leaves the stadium with the team - Mateusz Slodkowski/Getty Images

04:31 PM BST

History for Gjasula

04:25 PM BST

Kramaric Player of the Match

04:07 PM BST

Full-time: Croatia 2 Albania 2

What a thrilling game in Hamburg. Croatia will be kicking themselves especially after doing so well to turn things around in the second half. Albania looked tired late on but they held on and got their equaliser. The story of the day was Gjasula who came on as a substitute in a stadium he used to play in regularly with Hamburg, scored a devastating O.G. then went up the other end and salvaged a point for his country in dramatic fashion. Brilliant.

Arber Hoxha of Albania consoles Luka Modric
Arber Hoxha of Albania consoles Luka Modric - Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

04:02 PM BST

90+8 mins: Croatia 2 Albania 2

Am I watching the NBA play-offs or the Euros? It’s like a game of basketball now, end to end stuff. Albania have one last stab then Croatia do the same, Kovacic’s shot saved and the final whistle goes. I really didn’t want that game to end. This is what the Euros is all about.

03:58 PM BST

GOAL! 90+5 mins: Croatia 2 Albania 2

Gjasula with a late late equaliser and redemption! It looked for a while there like Albania were dead and buried but they’ve pulled it out of the hat. What a game! Gvardiol is on the turf, head in hands, as are the thousands of Croatian fans in the stadium.

Gjasula scores his side's late equaliser
Gjasula scores his side's late equaliser - Jens Buettner/AP

03:54 PM BST

90+3 mins: Croatia 2 Albania 1

Daku has two goes in a chaotic box scramble. He finally blasts it over.

03:52 PM BST

90 mins: Croatia 2 Albania 1

Albania with a big chance to equalise. Hoxha’s effort is parried into the path of sub Mirlind Daku but his follow-up from close range is blasted over. Flag goes up for a offside though.

03:48 PM BST

86 mins: Croatia 2 Albania 1

Modric goes for one from range but it goes just wide. Would have been the cherry on top. Baturina takes on his man on the left edge of the box, he hits a shot while falling but the keeper saves.

03:45 PM BST

83 mins: Croatia 2 Albania 1

Croatia subs: Kramaric and Perisic make way for Sosa and Baturina.

03:41 PM BST

79 mins: Croatia 2 Albania 1

All Croatia now. Albania wilting rapidly. Perisic’s crossing today has been nothing short of sublime. He floats in another beauty that nearly gets to Budamir. Speaking of Budamir, he’s been fantastic since coming on, making all the difference. They needed a big second half Croatia, and they have delivered.

03:37 PM BST

GOAL! 76 mins: Croatia 2 Albania 1

They’ve turned it around! And what a calamitous goal it is. Gjasula own goal. Budamir beats his man on the end line and plays it to Pasalic with an open goal. The shot is blocked but the clearance deflects off the substitute and flies into his own net. Have to feel for the Albanians.

Croatia's midfielder Luka Susic celebrates withIvan Perisic after Albania's midfielder Klaus Gjasula scored an own goal
Croatia's midfielder Luka Susic celebrates withIvan Perisic after Albania's midfielder Klaus Gjasula scored an own goal - Gabriel Bouys/Getty Images

03:34 PM BST

GOAL! 74 mins: Croatia 1 Albania 1

Kramaric finally finds the net! Albania’s resistance broken. Kovacic flicks it to Budamir who plays in Kramaric. The former Leicester man slots home and they’re level.

Kramaric celebrates the equaliser
Kramaric celebrates the equaliser - Abedin Taherkenareh/Shutterstock

03:32 PM BST

71 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Goalscorer Laci makes way for 34-year-old Gjasula. Juranovic loses it near his own area, its stolen by Bajrami but his effort is weak.

03:29 PM BST

68 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Perisic with another cross from wide left, met by Petkovic but no luck. Budimir on for Petkovic for Croatia.

03:27 PM BST

66 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Bajrami takes on Gvardiol, waits for him to commit but the Manchester City defender doesn’t so he tries his luck. The ball goes high, right and wide. At least the Albanians are starting to find their way back into the game now.

03:24 PM BST

64 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Laci is fuming. The Albanians steal possession in the Croatian half, Laci is free in space with the potential of a one-on-one but they play the ball backwards. Dumbfounded.

03:22 PM BST

61 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Croatia continue to pile on the pressure here. Albania struggling to get out of their own half, being forced backward on every attempt to break. When they do finally get out Aslani has a go from the edge of the area but it is underhit and Livakovic gathers happily.

Seferi comes on for Asani for the Albanians.

03:20 PM BST

56 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Modric hits a piledriver right into the midriff of Amadani. The referee stops play. Andros Townsend makes his discontentment known on ITV commentary.

“I wouldn’t be stopping the game for that”

“Does a football to the stomach count as a serious injury?”

03:17 PM BST

56 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Albania yet to threaten in this half so far but they’ve already shown they don’t need many chances to score. Croatia very much in control at the moment though. Another cross, another header, no goal but a corner for Croatia. Modric whips it in and somehow Sutelo missed from centimeters with a free header. Modric can’t believe his eyes.

03:14 PM BST

53 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Kovacic tries one from just outside the area. It is deflected but it doesn’t phase Strakosha who stays central and catches with ease. Perisic with yet another cross into the box but no one there to head it home.

03:11 PM BST

50 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

The ball finds its way to Sucic in the box, great opportunity but it is hit straight at the keeper. Perisic flies one into the danger area. It’s met by Pasalic who heads wide. Croatia getting a foothold now.

03:08 PM BST

48 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Perisic with another long throw into the area. Petkovic rises to meet again but it goes wide for a goal kick.

03:06 PM BST

46 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Sucic involved already. He crosses to Petkovic who can’t connect properly with his head to guide it goalwards.

03:04 PM BST

45 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Sucic and Pasalic come on for Majer and Brozovic. Fresh legs clearly needed by Croatia especially in the midfield. 45 minutes left for Croatia to save their tournament - and reputation.

02:50 PM BST

Half-time: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Albania will be more than happy with that first-half display. They’ve got their goal, created plenty of chances, looked dangerous whenever they’ve entered the Croatian half and managed to keep their oppositions attacking force at bay. More of the same in the second half one would assume.

Mateo Kovacic and Albania's defender Elseid Hisaj fight for the ball
Mateo Kovacic and Albania's defender Elseid Hisaj fight for the ball - Odd Andersen/Getty Images

02:48 PM BST

44 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Manaj has a great chance in front of goal. Cross whipped in by Hysaj onto the forehead of Manaj who heads it into the ground. Livakovic saves well again. Seconds later Croatia attack. Perisic’s cross is met by Petkovic and saved wonderfully by Strakosha. The referee blows up anyway for offside. Half-time.

02:44 PM BST

42 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Kramaric sends in another one, this time to Majer. It looks like the Albanian defender gets a touch on it but the linesman gives a goal kick.

02:42 PM BST

39 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Kovacic loses possession leading to a quick Albania counter. It is quelled but they hold possession. The Albanian crowd are drowning out the Croatian chants. Kramaric beats his man a couple of times on the edge of the box before crossing it into nobody in the box.

02:39 PM BST

36 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Modric sends the free in but Strakosha punches away. Long ball is played over the top to Asani from a quick free but he fails to control it. Brozovic has a go down the other end but it trickles into the keepers gloves.

02:36 PM BST

33 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Croatia have yet to test Albanian keeper Strakosha. They play around with the ball in the middle of the park. They certainly have players who can hurt an opposition, when will they get their first big chance of the game? They have a free on the edge of the area now. Could this be it?

02:33 PM BST

30 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

What a chance for Albania! Ball played through to Asllani who is one-on-one with Livakovic but the keeper stays tall and saves the midfielder’s effort. Could so easily have been two.

02:30 PM BST

27 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Free for Albania. It’s a bit long but Bajrami manages to find Laci whose cross is cleared. Asani finds Manaj in the box who heads it down to Hysaj. The defender hits it first time on the half-volley but it flies over. Albania still looking the more dangerous in attack.

02:27 PM BST

25 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Majer floats in another lethal cross off his left, right onto the head of Petkovic but the striker can’t guide it goalwards and it goes over the crossbar.

02:25 PM BST

23 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Modric pulling the strings in midfield as expected. Croatia put some nice link-up play together. They’re starting to look a bit more productive in possession (they currently have 63 percent of it). Twice they get close to the box but the Albanians break down their attack.

02:21 PM BST

20 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

End to end again. Bajrami in a foot race with Sutelo but the Croatian clears. Kramaric finds himself in a similar situation down the other end but the defenders do their job. Juranovic has a go from the edge of the area but it drags just wide.

02:20 PM BST

18 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Perisic launches a long throw into the box, dangerous but cleared. Perisic whips in another cross seconds later but the Albanians deal.

02:18 PM BST

16 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Albania appeal for a penalty but the referee is having none of it. Down the other end Modric steals the ball from a napping Mitaj but Arlind Ajeti kicks it out, stopping a potential Croatia attack.

02:16 PM BST

13 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

Croatia looking so open and vulnerable at the moment. Bajrami cuts in from the left and unleashes one but the keeper palms it into the side netting. Hysaj attempts the spectacular from the outside of the box but it is blocked.

02:13 PM BST

GOAL! 11 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 1

It’s been a pretty fast start to the game from both sides. Hysaj curls in a cross that Sutelo fails to properly clear. The ball is played back out to the midfield. It’s whipped in once more from the right hand side and met by Laci in the box who heads it past Livakovic. Another early goal for the Albanians!

Qazim Laci celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Croatia
Qazim Laci celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Croatia - Leszek Szymanski/Shutterstock

02:09 PM BST

6 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 0

Croatia with their first period of pressure. Maher cross cleared from corner. Ivanovic tries to find Petkovic with another cross from wide but cleared once more. Hysaj loses the ball to Kovacic on the edge of the area but they quickly win it back.

02:05 PM BST

3 mins: Croatia 0 Albania 0

Albania again looking sharp in the Croatian half. They win a free 35 yards out, the ball is clipped in to Asani by Manaj but Sutalo heads it back to the keeper.

02:02 PM BST

1 min: Croatia 0 Albania 0

Albania stringing some nice passes together in the opening phase of play, looking confident. Ball played over the top to Bajrami who crosses low but it is cleared by Gvardiol.

02:00 PM BST

1 min: Croatia 0 Albania 0

And we’re off...

01:57 PM BST

Kick-off approaching

Both teams belt out their national anthems with pride as the sun beats down in Hamburg. Kick-off in three minutes.

01:52 PM BST

Sylvinho aware of Albanian limitations

Albania coach Sylvinho spoke during the week, touching on his approach to games against bigger teams.

“I have seen other sides in this tournament. If you try and go toe-to-toe with them, they will score five or six against you,” said the former Arsenal and Barcelona defender.

“It’s only our second time here in the Euros. We have young players, very good players, but it’s not easy.”

01:26 PM BST

No Broja for Albania?

Broja arrives at the stadium prior to the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Croatia and Albania at Volksparkstadion
Broja misses out on Starting XI - Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

The Albanian team has been announced prior to kick-off and there’s is neither sight nor sound of Chelsea striker Armando Broja in the starting 11, perhaps their most recognisable player.

01:21 PM BST

Nikola Vlasic injury a blow for Croatia

Croatia’s Euro hopes have been dealt a blow with midfielder Nikola Vlasic ruled out of the tournament through injury.

The 26-year-old Torino midfielder, formerly of West Ham and Everton, picked up a muscle injury in training. Vlasic has been capped 56 times for his country.

Vlasic poses for a portrait during the Croatia Portrait session ahead of the UEFA EURO 2024
Vlasic will miss out on the rest of Euro 2024 - Vera Loitzsch/Getty Images

Following a scan, Vlasic said he will now be heading home.

“I’m extremely sorry that this new injury will prevent me from helping the team,” Vlasic said.

“I’ve done everything possible to be ready, and I’d like to thank the head coach and the coaching staff for the opportunity. I believe in this team and I’m sure they will succeed - I’ll be their biggest fan!”.

01:11 PM BST

Albania team

01:10 PM BST

Croatia team

01:07 PM BST

Today’s big games

01:06 PM BST

Croatia need a win

Croatia have lost three of their past five competitive matches, going down against Turkey, Wales and Spain in this run. It is is as many defeats as they had suffered across their previous 29 games in competitive action combined. They’ll need to turn that form around if they are to escape the Euro 2024 group stages.

12:57 PM BST

Predict the score

12:49 PM BST

Croatia looking to bounce back against minnows Albania

Good afternoon everybody and welcome to the Telegraph’s live blog of the Group B clash between Croatia and Albania at the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg. We will be taking you through every moment, every bulge of the net, every woodwork hit and every crunching tackle made as Croatia aim to bounce back from their disappointing 3-0 defeat to Spain in the tournament’s opening round of matches.

As for the Albanians, they nearly caused a mighty upset in their opening encounter with Italy, scoring after just 23 seconds, but the current European champions turned it around in true Azzurri fashion, eventually winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Alessandro Bastoni and Nicolo Barella.

Despite their underwhelming display against Spain, the Croatian squad are well used to playing on the biggest stage and will no doubt be favourites for this. Zlatko Dalic’s side reached the 2018 World Cup final and the penultimate stages in Qatar in 2022.

They have recovered from slow starts before, progressing from the group stage at Euro 2020 despite losing to England in their opening game, and as previously mentioned at the last World Cup they reached the semi-finals after an opening loss to Morocco.

“There is no room for pessimism, everything is still in our hands,” Dalic said. “Of course, we have to be better. It’s my job to turn the team around” he continued.

Their goal difference surely isn’t doing them any favours in the group but a big win in Hamburg today can make up for it, especially with Italy taking on Spain tomorrow night.

Euro 2024 has brought us plenty of goals thus far, let’s hope that continues today. Bring it on!