EURO 2020: Macedonia melts hearts, but Austria wins 3:1 (Video)

Macedonia eventually debuted at a major tournament, scored the first historic goal but unfortunately clumsy mistakes lead to Austria claiming the points with a 3:1 win.

photo by FFM: Pandev right after scoring the goal

Playing the Macedonian anthem at a EURO was a big win for the nation. The Arena Națională stadium in Bucharest had more Macedonian fans who made big noise during the match and all together sung the national anthem. Really great to see that.

Angelovski fielded on of his two standard formations. Stole Dimitrievski between the posts; Visar Musliu, Darko Velkovski and Stefan Ristovski in the back line; Ezgjan Alioski left with Boban Nikolov on the right side; Elif Elmas, Arijan Ademi and Enis Bardhi in the midfield; Aleksandar Trajkovski and captain Goran Pandev up front. The three players that the coach opted to drop from this match were Gjoko Zajkov, Marjan Radeski and Vlatko Stojanovski.

photo: FFM

Dimitrievski easily caught a header from Baumgartner in the 10th minute in what was the first attempt. Nervy start in the first 10 minutes as both teams didn’t want to make an early mistake. A minute alter Bardhi tried to fool Austria by faking that he will shoot from distance, but he instead tried a pass to Pandev. However, the pass was a tad long and Pandev could not reach it.

At 15th minute Alioski with a bad pass that is intercepted by Kalajdžić. He then tries a long range shot that is blocked, while the rebound is cleared away.

18th minute: 1:0 Austria! Great goal. Wonderful pass from Sabitzer and a great finish from Lainer. That was a beauty. Alioski was late there and Dimitrievski could not stop Lainer from scoring.

Big chance for Austria in the 22nd minute. Kalajdžić received a good cross from Sabitzer, but his acrobatic volley was saved by Dimitrievski. Velkovski went to help, and nobody picked up Kalajdžić. He had plenty of space there. Lucky he did not convert.

28th minute: Goal for Macedonia! A goal out of nowhere. The Austrian keeper just showed how inexperienced he is. He spilled the ball (Trajkovski helped) and then Pandev scored a simple goal. Pandev is the scorer of the first historic goal for Macedonia at a major tournament. That will go down in the history books.

photo: FFM

A lot of pushing and shoving in the box as Austria took a corner kick in the 35th minute. They are much bigger and taller, so our players really had to avoid giving away set piece opportunities. On this corner, GK Dimitrievski punched away the ball.

Two minutes later Trajkovski made a pass to Ristovski who tried a shot from distance, but his effort went well over. Trajkovski should have shot that. He is better on long range shots than Ristovski.

Three minutes till the break ans Trajkovski got a yellow card for an elbow on an aerial duel. You see those types of things all the time. The Austrian defender sold that by staying down.

Halftime: Macedonia 1:1 Austria. An absolute world class goal from Austria (both the pass and finish) which was cancelled out by an equalizer from Pandev after some misunderstanding in the back. Overall, a fair result as it has been an even, hard fought, competitive first half.

photo: FFM

Three minutes after the break and Trajkovski  made a terrible pass to kill a promising chance. There was a 2-on-1 with Alioski overlapping, but Trajkovski’s pass was intercepted. That could have been a big chance to Alioski if the pass was good.

Alioski got a yellow card for a bad challenge in the 52nd minute. Austria wanted a red card but the referee was adamant on a yellow card. There was no VAR check.

More intensity in this second half from both teams. Both wanted 3 points and could smell a win.

Dimitrievski caught an enticing looking cross in the 55th minute. He then went down to receive treatment. Nothing looked wrong. He was probably just allowing his teammates to catch their breath since Austria had been pushing strongly the past few minutes.

Aleksandar Dragović and Elif Elmas; photo: FFM

Austria made a double switch at 58th minute, with one of them being Arnautović replacing Kalajdžić. Austria also made one change at half-time (one of their center backs), so they have two substitutions remaining.

Big chance from Nikolov in the 62nd minute, but the keeper made a good save. Great pass from Bardhi to release Nikolov for the big opportunity. Pandev tried on the rebound, but it was a hard position and his attempt went wide.

63rd minute: Double switch for Macedonia as Bejtulai and Kostadinov came on for Trajkovski and Nikolov.

Huge save from Dimitrievski at 64th minute. Big time from our keeper to stretch out and save a header.

Ademi bailed out Musliu in the 66th minute. Musliu had a pass intercepted, but Ademi run hard, put his hands behind him (so no chance of penalty) and blocked a cross out for a corner kick.

Arnautović made a big difference since his introduction and made Austria look more dangerous. On the other side Kostadinov, who is a very limited player, surprisingly came in over Spirovski who is more experienced and just better as a midfield option.

Christoph Baumgartner vs. Stefan Ristovski; photo: FFM

Nice long pass from Alioski in the 70th minute, but Elmas’ first touch let him down. Otherwise, he was through on goal. Good counter attack three minutes later. Alioski had a go, but his powerful shot was blocked by Austria.

Another dangerous counter. Hinteregger with a massive block on Elmas in the 74th minute. Who knows where that shot was going?

78th minute: Austria retake the lead at 2:1. A cross from Alaba was met and sent home by substitute Gregoritsch.

82nd minute: Trichkovski came on for Bardhi. The bench quality is a huge differentiator between Macedonia and Austria. We have no difference makers on the bench, while Austria’s winner (as it stands) came from a substitute.

Milan Ristovski came on for Musliu in the 84th minute.

89th minute: 3:1 for Austria. Big mistake from Bejtulai on a back pass. Arnautović intercepted, rounded the keeper and easily scored.

Dimitrievski made a big intervention to prevent another goal during the injury time. We ware very vulnerable at the back with the substitutions made. You see the limits on our bench quality. Things went downhill quick after the substitutions made by Angelovski.

Final: Austria 3:1 Macedonia. Two well taken goals from Austria and then a gift late on. Overall, a workmanlike performance. We should have no complaints. We knew our bench is bad, and that reared its ugly head in this game. Ultimately, Austria being deeper won them the match.

The game was there to be had. Basically same situation as the Germany mach. Things just played out differently. Ultimately, the bad bench did us in. In the 78th minute Kostadinov did not close down on Alaba’s cross and then a huge mistake from Bejtulai on the last goal.

Austria is a quality side, and no match in this group will be a cakewalk. We will need 3 or 4 points from the last two fixtures.

Our next match is on Thursday against Ukraine at the same venue in Bucharest but at 15.00 CET.

Match report | Standings

Facts regarding this match:

  • 250th match for Macedonia overall.
  • 120th appearance for Goran Pandev.
  • 65th cap for Ivan Trichkovski.
  • 45th cap for Azgjan Alioski.
  • 38th goal for Goran Pandev.
  • 35th cap for Boban Nikolov and Enis Bardhi.
  • 3rd defeat in 3 encounters against Austria, all under Angelovski.
  • 1st match for Macedonia at a EURO.

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