Macedonia got totally outplayed and smashed away to Armenia ending the ten matches undefeated run with a disappointing tactics, play and attitude.
photo by FFM: Pandev is being held by Haroyan
Optimism was high after Saturday’s win over Liechtenstein and the perfect record in the opening three rounds of the Nations League. But what we saw today in Yerevan was a completely different Macedonia than the one we got used to watch in the last year.
From the beginning head coach Igor Angelovski got outsmarted by newly appointed Armenian coach and that situation never changed throughout the entire match. Armenia dominated from the start and showed great hunger for play and scoring, unlike the Macedonian team who probably though Armenia’s surprising home defeat by Gibraltar meant that they are at the same level.
Armenia totally deserved the win, but we have to mention the amateur Swedish referee Martin Strömbergsson who lost himself right from the first minute together with the Macedonian players. His decision to allow bad tackles moved the match into a constant fight between the played resulting with a total of 11 booking including one second yellow.
The home side took an early lead after just 12 minutes of play. Ristovski had the ball and was heading into a counter attack on the throw in line when he was was kicked from behind by Mkhitaryan. But the referee did not blow the whistle, Mkhitaryan gave the ball to Pizzeli who fired a shot from 20 meters that lead to a disastrous intervention by keeper Dimitrievski who managed to slip the ball from his hands.
The opening goal:
Eight minutes later Khachaturov made a dangerous tackle on Spirovski. His sliding entrance was so dangerous that he actually injured his teammate Pizzeli who had to be taken outside as he couldn’t walk with the injured knee. The home coach was forced to make an early substitution.
The second crucial mistake by the referee happened in the 27th minute when Bardhi was brought down in the box. Pandev perfectly served him in the 27th minute, Bardhi got one on one with the home keeper when Hovsepyan made a sliding tackle right on Bardhi’s legs instead on the ball, but the referee remained silent. Pandev and Ristovski got yellow card for protesting. UEFA should give red card to this clown of a referee for his blindness.
If the Macedonians were lost from entering the pitch, that unrewarded penalty made them more nervous and at this point it was obvious that they have no nerves to take something from this game. The entire first half saw not a single shot in the goal by Macedonia.
Macedonia started playing a bit better when Elmas was introduced on the place of Spirovski. In the 60th minute Elmas had the first real visiting chance but his shot went straight into the home keeper. Few minutes later Nestorovski stepped in instead of Bardhi.
In the 67th minute Dimitrievski and Zajkov cemented the Armenian victory. They failed to properly deliver a goal-kick giving away the ball to Adamyan who passed to Mkhitaryan in the right who immediately served Movsisyan in the box for a 2:0 lead.
The goal for 2:0:
Angelovski tried to do something putting Hasani and last hope instead of defender Zajkov. Like Elmas, Hasani showed hunger for football but simply could not do anything by himself as his defense today decided the winner.
Nine minutes from time Dimitrievski took care of the Armenian third goal. If will definitely be a match that will haunt him forever. Ghazaryan’s low long-range free-kick went into his hands but again somehow he manged to slip it behind the line.
For the disaster to be bigger decided another mistake in the back line. The ball was given away, the Armenians went into an attack, Risrovski for a moment stole the ball but reacted clumsy giving it back right away. Elmas, wanting to prevent a goal, made a tackle from behind that brought him the second yellow card. But that was not all. Mkhitaryan scored a fourth humiliating goal firing the ball under the wall.
We usually do not criticize players, bu we simply have to do it this time. Dimitrievski was awful today. Zajkov, Musliu, Ristevski and Ristovski seemed like players who play together for the first time. The midfield with Spirovski, Ademi and Bardhi was uncreative and idealess, while Alioski down the flank was uselless throughout the whole match. Pandev, Trajkovski and substitutes Elmas, Hasani and Nestorovski seemed the only ones who actually played a normal game today. While Angelovski, he is probably the guiltiest here. He was outsmarted by the Armenian coach and for 90 minutes failed to make a counter tactics.
This was the first defeat after 10 matches for Macedonia. And what a defeat it is! Last time Macedonia lost it was against Spain in June 2017 in a 2018 World Cup qualifier. This defeat is in the top 5 overall biggest defeats that we have suffered. Actually, it is on the 4th place. Click here to see that statistics and scroll at the bottom.
Angelovski’s after match press-conference (in Macedonian):