Macedonia defeated and outplayed its biggest rival for the first place in the Group D and tops the group with two wins from two matches.
photo by Filip Zdraveski: view at the game
After Thursday’s 2:0 road win over Gibraltar, Macedonia hosted table top rivals Armenia in Skopje in the second round of the UEFA Nations League. Head coach Igor Angelovski changed the formation from 3-4-1-2 from the first match into 4-3-3 making two changes in the starting line-up. Egzon Bejtulai and Elif Elmas started while Boban Nikolov and Aleksandar Trajkovski were benched. Armenian coach fielded both players with Macedonian league experience, attacker Tigran Barseghyan who is still at Vardar and his former teammate back Hovhannes Hambardzumyan who plays as wing back. Surprisingly, the two best players in their first match against Liechtenstein, Pizzeli and Özbiliz, were benched.
Macedonia early broke the dead lock from the first attempt of the match. In the 12th minute Pandev won an Italian style penalty against André Calisir as Alioski stepped in and converted it.
It was one of the most boring halves Macedonia has ever participated in. The Armenians were totally incapable of reaching Dimitrievski’s box with Macedonia holding the ball and controlling the game play all the time. Despite having the possession, the Lynx failed to create a chance and after the penalty only one more shot was made. It came in the 42nd minute when Bardhi tried from a long distance free kick, but his great shot was well saved by Airapetyan.
Armenia started playing much better after the break. They missed a great occasion in the 50th minute when Ristevski wanted to pass the ball to Dimitrievski but instead served the visiting front line. Luckily, the Armenians reacted clumsy.
Macedonia doubled the lead in the 59th minute when a great action between Elmas, Alioski and Trajkovski ended with the last serving Pandev in the box who scored on first touch.
The second goal (at 0:13):
Standing ovation for captain Goran Pandev in the 69th minute as he made space for Nestorovski. He did his job today by winning a penalty and later scoring a goal.
Two minutes later Ghazaryan fired a shot from the edge of the box and hit the outside of the left post.
Substitute Nikolov could have buried the visitors but his shot from right in the 78th minute went just next to the far post.
Click here to view the match report.
The Macedonians maintained the lead and at the end celebrated the second consecutive win. After two round Macedonia tops the group with 6 points.
In the second game of this round tonight Liechtenstein hosts Gibraltar in Vaduz. For Macedonia, the next encounter will be on 13 October when we will host Liechtenstein, while at the same date Gibraltar will visit Armenia.