Makkelie helps Croatia fizzle at Euro 2024

Dutch referee Danny Makkelie
Dutch referee Danny Makkelie

Croatia, needing a Euro 2024 victory over Italy in Group B to progress, came out somnolent for all but a minute of the first half of their key match. The Italians, needing only a draw to progress as the second-best team in the group, played their usual defensive match with the odd counterattack and kept the game evenhanded.

In the second half, the Croatians seemed to wake up but only for short spurts.

In the 54th minute, a penalty in favor of Croatia was awarded. But Luka Modric’s planted left foot slipped, and he hit a tame shot to the left of Italian keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who saved easily with a strong dive.

Less than a minute later a cross from the right wing by Croatian Luka Sucic into the Italian box found teammate striker, Ante Budimir, who got a boot on it after a slide, for a close-in shot. But Italy’s Donnarumma put a hand up and saved again. Only this time he spilled it behind an onrushing Modric, who spun around and roofed a shot into the goal from close in for the opening score in the 55th minute.

At that stage, Italy had a chance of coming in as a best-third-placed team but would have to await other results to know its fate.

Once again, the Croatians held on up to the end of regulation time, but Dutch referee Danny Makkelie, using his sanctioned discretion, decided eight minutes of stoppage time were needed. An exaggeration by any stretch of the imagination. So, at the 90+8” Italy’s Mattia Zaccagni scored the tying goal that put Italy through and likely eliminated Croatia from Euro 2024. [At 5:30 pm EST, the Wikipedia page for Makkelie had an interesting addition to the intro write-up: “Danny Makkelie will be held accountable for his actions against CROATIA. He will pay. No mercy.”] 

As of this writing, assuming nothing else changes, England would have to defeat Slovenia by four goals in their last game for Croatia to progress as a best-third-placed team.

If it is the end, it was a sad one for Modric, who scored the goal the team needed ten minutes into the second half, then signaled coach, Zlatko Dalic, fifteen minutes later (the 70th minute) that the Croatians were spent and needed subs. The coach complied with several substitutions including that of Modric at the 80th minute. But as was the case against Albania, the team ran out of steam and allowed a juvenile, uncontested shot, from inside the box, for the late and damning score.

It seems the fairytale run of Croatia’s Golden Generation has come to an end in Euro 2024.

Shutterstock photo ID—1258746247, by Bukharev, Oleg.

TAGS—Danny Makkelie, Luka Modric, Mattia Zaccagni, Zlatko Dalic, Euro 2024.

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