Kačaniklić (L) scored the lone goal; photo: daylife.com

Sweden – Macedonia 1:0

Kačaniklić (L) scored the lone goal; photo: daylife.comA lone goal by Alexander Kačaniklić in the 39th minute was enough to propel Sweden to a 1:0 friendly victory over Macedonia.

Macedonian manager Chedomir Janevski deployed his favored 4-2-3-1 formation with some surprises along the way as Bajram Fetai started as the second defensive midfielder alongside Nikola Gligorov, while Samir Fazli was given the nod as the lone striker up front.  Sweden started a strong lineup, led by Zlatan Ibrahimović who proved to be a menace throughout the game but the Macedonian keepers were up to the challenge and denied him on numerous occasions.

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The 1st half was dominated by Sweden and the score was only 1:0 due to the good goalkeeping by Tome Pachovski.  The first quality chance for Sweden came early in the 3rd minute from a dangerous free kick, but Pachovski was able to deny Ibrahimovic before Vanche Shikov cleared the ball out for a corner.  Macedonia’s first shot on goal came in the 11th minute through Samir Fazli whose shot was straight at the Swedish keeper.

The next big opportunity for Sweden came in the 21st minute after a bad giveaway by Macedonia near the midfield line.  The home side executed a string of good passes but Pachovski was up to the challenge and made two saves with his legs before the third Swedish shot hit the side netting.  In the 25th minute, Ibrahimović unleashed a powerful shot from distance that went narrowly wide of the right goal post.  Ibrahimović then had another go in the 29th minute with a shot from inside the area that was denied by Pachovski before Shikov cleared the rebound out for a corner.

Macedonia nearly got a breakthrough in the 36th minute when on a counter attack, Trichkovski sent the ball forward where Agim Ibraimi was one on one against a Swedish defender.  Ibraimi used his pace to get past his marker and for a moment he seemed headed for a one on one opportunity with the keeper, but the Swedish defender recovered and made an important tackle to avert the danger.

Sweden eventually opened the scoreline in the 39th minute when a cross by Ibrahimović reached an unmarked Alexander Kačaniklić who sent a close range header to the back of the net.  Kačaniklić nearly added a second goal moments later but his shot struck the top of the crossbar.

Video of the goal by Sweden:

At halftime, Macedonia made three substitutions with Kristijan Naumovski, Aleksandar Trajkovski and Ferhan Hasani replacing Tome Pachovski, Ivan Trichkovski and Bajram Fetai.  In the 49th minute, Darko Tasevski was also replaced after he started bleeding in the forehead following an aerial duel with Albin Ekdal.  Daniel Mojsov came on to take Darko’s place on the field.  Macedonia had an effort in the 52nd minute from Stefan Ristovski but his shot was straight at the Swedish keeper.

On the other end, in the 56th minute, Ibrahimovic came close once again but keeper Kristijan Naumovski got a piece of the ball before defender Nikolche Noveski cleared the ball to avert the danger.  Starting around the 60th minute, Macedonia started to play better and showed more initiative in attack.  Agim Ibraimi attempted a long range shot in the 65th minute that went slightly over the goal.  Then, in the 71st minute, a header by Ferhan Hasani that seemed to be headed towards goal was blocked by a Swedish defender.  Finally, substitute Mirko Ivanovski nearly capitalized on a misunderstanding between defender Jonas Olsson and keeper Andreas Isaksson in the 72nd minute, but he was just beat to the ball by Isaksson.

The final chance for Ibrahimović came in the 74th minute but Naumovski saved his shot before the ball went out for a corner.  The last opportunities for Sweden fell to substitute Ola Toivonen in the 88th and 90th minute, but he squandered both quality chances to keep the final score at 1:0.

To view the match report, click here.

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