In a match that lasted two days, Macedonia got defeated with a late goal and opened the 2018 World Cup qualifier with a disappointment.
Another qualifiers, same old story for Macedonia. Not a good start for the senior national team who failed to at least get a point in neighbouring Albania even having a 1:1 draw untill the 89th minute.
Macedonia started with a new formation in 5-3-2 and after only 9 minutes play the home side scored after a bad defending. Albania was better in the first half, controlled the game and had the possesion although never created a serious chance for scoring. There was a constant rain that in that period didn’t make problems for the players.
In the second half we saw a completely different Macedonia. The Lynx started making more and more pressure and eventually the equalized came in the 51st minute when Ezgjan Alioski reacted great after a sloppy pass from Burim Kukeli who wanted to find Berat Xhimshiti.
The rain transformed into a storm with strong wind and after few minutes in harsh conditions, the referee decided to interrupt the game in the 76th minute. According to the FIFA statute, in such circumstances the game can be paused up to 45 minutes and continued if the conditions are good. However, the storm in Shkoder never ended and it was decided the rest of the game to be played the next day at 14.00 CET. The Macedonian team insisted the game to be played at 12.00 CET, while Albanians wanted at 15.00 CET.
So on Tuesday the match restarted from the 76th minute. Macedonia played aggressively with constant losing of the time. In the 89th minute Albania had a free kick and afterÂÂÂ across in the box substitute Bekim Balaj headed the ball in the Macedonian net bringing 3 points to Albania. It was a ball the debuting keeper Kostadin Zahov should have caught it while it was still in the air, but instead he stayed on the line, while none of the Macedonian defenders managed to get it before the Albanian striker.
The best player in the Macedonian team was definitely Ezgjan Alioski, not because he scored the goal, but because everything he did on the field. Even few weeks ago, he gave a statement in which he promised that if the national team coach summonses him, he would payback with a goal against Albania. Obviously he kept his promise.
To view the match report, click here.
This was the 9th match between Macedonia and Albania, but the other 8 were all friendlies. It’s only the second win for Albania as Macedonia has 4 with 3 draws. Vanche Shikov celebrated his 50th appearance in the national team, Alioski scored his first goal, while keeper Zahov debuted.
In the other matches in our group, Spain as expected humiliated Liechtenstein with 8:0, while Italy won 3 points in the hard road game in Israel. In the next Round, Macedonia host Israel on 6 October.