Trickovski (L) in action; photo: sulekha.com

Macedonia – Slovakia 1:1

Macedonia concluded the EURO 2012 qualifications with a 1:1 draw at home against Slovakia.  The visitors opened the scoring in the 54th minute after a huge misunderstanding between Vance Sikov and Martin Bogatinov but Nikolce Noveski scored the equalizer for Macedonia with a header following a corner kick in the 79th minute.

The first ten minutes were pretty dull as neither side was able to threaten the opposing goal.  Slovakia had the first real opportunity of the game in the 13th minute but the shot by Vladimír Weiss from close range went over the goal from a tight angle.  The visitors had more of the possession but Macedonia came close in the 26th minute when Mario Gjurovski’s shot went just wide of the right goal post.  Samir Fazli played a great ball over the top but Gjurovski rushed things and just sent his shot wide from the edge of the area.  Three minutes later, Trickovski made a nice run from the left but his cross was a tad long and the Slovakia keeper gathered the ball.

Trickovski then had another chance for Macedonia in the 32nd minute but his free kick from a good position was saved by the diving Slovakia keeper who punched the ball and Macedonia was awarded a throw in from the left.  That was the final chance of the half as the Macedonian defense held up well and Trickovski was by far the best player on the pitch between the two teams.

In the 2nd half, Trickovski and Fazli played a nice one-two but Tricko inadvertently used his hand and the French referee called a hand ball before Trickovski was getting ready to unleash his shot.  Then, four minutes later, disaster for Macedonia when Vance Sikov and Martin Bogatinov were not on the same page and Slovakia scored a very soft goal.  Sikov was getting ready to clear the ball but for some unknown reason, Bogatinov left his goal and then Sikov’s timid header ended in the path of Slovakia player Juraj Piroska who scored with a header into an empty net.  Just a terrible goal to concede.

As expected, Macedonia then panicked and Slovakia had several more chances to extend the lead.  Bogatinov did redeem himself in the 58th minute when he made two good saves.  First, he saved a shot from close range and then saved the rebound.  Bogatinov made another save in the 62nd minute as this ten minute period after the 54th minute was disastrous for Macedonia.

Substitute Filip Ivanovski had an immediate chance for Macedonia in the 65th minute but his header following a cross by Vlade Lazarevski went well over the goal.  In the 72nd minute, Lazarevski was selfish as he tried a shot from a tight angle instead of attempting a low cross from the right.  His shot was saved and it went for a corner.  Three minutes later, Lazarevski learned his lesson and attempted a dangerous looking cross from the right but the Slovakia keeper punched the ball to clear the danger as Fazli was getting ready to connect with the ball.

Finally, Macedonia scored the equalizing goal in the 79th minute.  Trickovski made a great run from the left by going past two Slovakian players before winning a corner.  Tricko took the corner and the ball first touched the head of a Slovakia player before it fell perfectly for captain Nikolce Noveski who scored with a header from close range.  The goal by Noveski was nothing new for Macedonia as it was another goal scored with a header following a corner kick.  The last fifteen minutes, including stoppage time, did not feature any quality chances and both teams settled for a point.

Highlights of the game:

Phillip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia
Referee: Tony Chapron (France)
Scorers: 79′ Noveski (M); 54′ Piroska (S)
Yellow Cards: 9′ Mojsov (M); 81′ Jendrišek (S)
Red Cards: None
Macedonia: Bogatinov, Mojsov, Sikov, Noveski (c), Lazarevski, Demiri, Gjurovski, Lazevski (64′ Ivanovski), Grozdanoski (46′ Petrov), Trickovski, Fazli (84′ Trajkovski).
Slovakia: Mucha, Pekarík, Weiss, Jež (88′ Grajciar), Piroska (87′ Hološko), Michalik, Hubočan (46′ Čech), Saláta, Hamšík (c), Jendrišek, Kucka.

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