Macedonia played a hell of a game, but Italy won with a goal in the injury time to leave Macedonia pointless after 3 rounds in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Eventually we saw a great performance by the Macedonian players. The unlucky defeat by Israel was obviously forgotten with the players being highly motivated to play against one of the best teams in the world, the 4 times world champions Italy.
The anthems before the kick-off:
After the initial domination by the Azzurri in the opening minutes, Macedonia managed to threaten Buffon’s goal through Alioski and later Nestorovski who’s shot hit the crossbar.
Italy broke the dead lock in the 24th minute when Bernardeschi took a corner kick and found Ciro Immobile in the box who managed to escape to Spirovski and score from close range.
Alioski then tried from distance with a good shot, but the ball went a bit wide. Nestorovski had a second great chance, this time with a header, but Buffon made a great save.
After the break Italy against took the possession and had some chances, but it was Macedonia who later score. Verratti made a wrong pass giving the ball to Nestorovski who quickly lead a counter attack, managed to get past Leonardo Bonucci and put the ball in Buffon’s net.
Just two minutes after the equalizer came another shock for the Italians. This time Bernardeschi lost the ball to Ibraimi at the center and a new counter attack arose again by Nestorovski. Before the box he gave it to Pandev who couldn’t shot so he passed it back to Nestorovski who unintentionally passed it to Ferhan Hasani who with a precise shot sent the Arena Philip II of Macedon into delirium.
The surprising lead by Macedonia was a signal for coach Gian Piero Ventura that something must be changed so he brought in Marco Parolo and striker Nicola Sansone. Italy started controlling the game.
The atmosphere in the second half:
Great chance for 3:1 was missed by Macedonia in the 71st minute. Ibraimi took a free kick and nicely found central defender Mojsov in the box who missed a perfect opportunity as his header was caught by Buffon.
In the 75th minute Candreva from right wanted to find Belotti in the box who would have been in offside position, but luckily Immobile got to the ball and Italy again scored on a close range.
As the time went by it was obvious that the Macedonians are tired and they have to defend well. Hasani was taken out and replaced with defensive midfielder Trajchevski. Still, the Azzurri managed to score a winner. Again Candreva sent a great ball in the box to which again reacted Immobile scoring on a header for a 3:2 win in the first minute of the injury time.
To view the match report, click here.