Macedonia opened the 2024 EURO qualifiers with a hard fought win against group outsiders Malta.
photo by FFM: Miovski and Elmas celebrate the opener
Coach Blagoja Milevski opted for Stole Dimitrievski between the posts, the trio Gjoko Zajkov, Darko Velkovski and Visar Musliu in the back line, Ezgjan Alioski as LWB, captain Stefan Ristovski as RWB, Enis Bardhi and Jani Atanasov in the midfield, Elif Elmas, Bojan Miovski and Aleksandar Trajkovski up front.
Atanasov wasn’t supposed to start, but Arijan Ademi picked up a minor injury day before the match so Atanasov stepped in. Ademi was benched.
Macedonia disappointed with the effort in the opening half. Malta was defensively oriented, but the Macedonians never managed to threatened Bonello’s goal. The few shots went wide.
New kits, same unsatisfactory play.
In the 60th minute after an Elmas’ effort Miovski was brought down in the box and the Estonian referee pointed at the penalty spot. However, VAR intervened and the decision got changed with Miovski getting a yellow card for acting.
Six minutes later eventually the dead lock was broken. Elmas intercepted a rebound ball and immediately fired a shot, beating Bonello.
Malta was already broken when substitute Churlinov simply finished them with his goal in the 72nd minute.
Four minutes from time rumble in the Macedonian box was seized by the visitors through debutante Yankam and Malta got back in the game.
The last minute was underway the Bardhi took a free kick from far right, a position from where everyone expected a ball in the box. However, he opted for a goal, surprising the visiting keeper. At the end the ball ended up hitting the crossbar.
— Mecedonia 🇲🇰 (@macedoniaffmkd) March 23, 2023
In the injury time Joseph Mbong fired a shot fro distance, but Dimitrievski was well placed. The very next moment coach Milevski was expelled for going outside his area.