U21 qualifier: Portugal – Macedonia 2:0

Portugal U21 vs. Macedonia U21; photo: fpf.ptPortugal U21 scored two goals within the opening 15 minutes of the 2nd half to defeat their counterparts from Macedonia.

Manager Boban Babunski had at his disposal the likes of Aleksandar Trajkovski, Stefan Ristovski, Ezgjan Alioski and David Babunski, four players who also feature for the senior national team, but the U21 team could not avoid defeat in Portugal.  Macedonia U21 played rather well for long stretches in the opening half, and keeper Stole Dimitrievski was in good form when he was called upon to make stops on several occasions.  Macedonia was stringing together passes, showing good movement and fight, but all that changed early in the 2nd half when Portugal broke the deadlock.

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In the first 45 minutes, the best chances for Macedonia fell on two shots by David Babunski, one coming from a free kick, and a Gjoko Zajkov header moments before the halftime break.

Following a long cross from the right, Benfica’s striker Bernardo Silva pounced on the ball and sent a shot past Dimitrievski from inside the area.  It was a demoralizing goal at a time when the Macedonian players were gaining in confidence following a positive opening half.

Things got worse in the 55th minute when captain Stefan Ristovski hobbled off with an injury and had to be substituted by Marjan Radeski.  Four minutes later, Portugal U21 extended its lead to 2:0 after Ricardo Esgaio converted a penalty.  The referee then gave Portugal another penalty in the 66th minute, but this time Dimitrievski guessed right and saved the penalty kick attempt by Gonçalo Paciência.

With the win, Portugal remained perfect with the maximum 15 points from their 5 games in Group 8 for the 2015 U21 qualifications, while Macedonia stayed second from bottom with just 4 points from their five games.  These two teams meet once again on 23 May when Macedonia hosts Portugal in Skopje.

Macedonia U21: Dimitrievski; Ristovski (55′ Radeski), Zajkov, Musliu, Alioski; Blazhevski, Micevski (61′ Velkovski); Ashkovski, Da. Babunski, Trajkovski, Do. Babunski (80′ Gjurgjevikj).

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