Macedonia opened the Nations League campaign with an expected win over Gibraltar away thanks to the goals by Ivan Trichkovski and Ezgjan Alioski.
photo: moment of the match
The match started with most of the 22 players in Gibraltar’s half. This seemed like the hosts will take on a defensive approach. However, the opening 15 minutes saw 3 corners for the home side. This served as a wake-up call for Macedonia. Trichkovski was through on goal after a ball by Spirovski, but his shot went wide. Just couple of minutes later, he opened the scoreline after calmly sending a shot in the opposition’s goal following a great cross by Ristovski. Interesting – this was Trichko’s first goal for Macedonia after 5 years.
After this, it was all much easier for Macedonia. The pressure was off and Gibraltar was there for the taking. Bardhi had a great opportunity when he received a pass to beat the offside trap, but his shot was saved. The ball hit the face of the keeper before going out for a corner. From the subsequent corner, the ball hits a Macedonian head and then it falls perfectly to Alioski who smashes home a powerful shot to make it 0:2 in 35th minute.
Before half-time, Spirovski could have made it 0:3 but his good shot was stopped by an even better save by Goldwin. The hosts had no shots on goal in the first half.
At the beginning of the second half, Nestorovski took Pandev’s place. This looked like a tactical change in order to keep 35-years-old Pandev fresh for the upcoming Armenia game. 10 minutes into the second half, Alioski attempted a bicycle kick from the edge of the box, but his shot went just wide. Minutes later, Nestorovski fell down in the box looking for a penalty, but the referee waved on. Gibraltar did not prove to be too difficult opponent as they did not threaten Dimitrievski at all during the match. Macedonia had around 70% possession and could have easily won with a bigger margin. On the positive note, the players were able to save some of their strength for the upcoming Armenia match, as this result was enough for a successful start of the campaign.
Macedonia will now look to switch their focus on the much more important game against Armenia in Skopje on Sunday. Armenia defeated Liechtenstein 2:1 in the other game of the group.
To view the match report, click here.