In the first qualifier under new coach Ilievski the young Macedonians played well but at the end fell short to their Serbian counterpart who are leading the group with a perfect score.
photo: Atanasov (L), Kostadinov (R) and Ristovski (top) celebrate the goal
With Macedonia already being eliminated, Dobrinko Ilievski decided to start building the team for the next qualifications so fielded many players of the next generation.
After the opening pressure by the hosts Macedonia step by step was beginning to oppose the group favorites. In the 29th minute the Dutch referee blew a very suspicious penalty for the home side which the Serbian players did not miss the occasion to break the dead lock through Šaponjić. Following a corner kick, a Serbian player fell down way too easily and the referee did not think twice.
After the penalty the concentration of the Macedonians dropped and Serbia could have added at least another goal at least. Nowever, Šaponjić missed two tap-ins. Luckily, the score did not change before the break.
In the second half the Macedonians were more determined and played much better. Tihomir Kostadinov, who missed a sitter several minutes before, redeems himself with a goal in the 64th minute. He sent a shot from inside the area to the bottom right corner. The keeper got a piece of the ball, but could not keep it out.
The 1:1 did not last until the end as Serbia added a winner ten minutes from time through Ranđelović. It came after a free kick into the box when the Serbian played headed the ball past the Macedonian keeper.
Besides the defeat Macedonia U21 has outplayed Serbia U21 in the second half. That is very impressive. We have a younger generation (players mostly born in 1998 or later) taking it to Serbia U21 (most of their players born in 1996 or 1997) who is undefeated with a perfect score in the group.
To view the match report, click here.