One goal apiece by Ivan Trichkovski and Aleksandar Trajkovski was enough to propel Macedonia to a hard fought 2:1 victory over Wales.
Manager Chedomir Janevski made two surprises in the starting lineup with Darko Tasevski starting in defensive midfield over Ostoja Stjepanovikj and Jovan Kostovski getting the nod at CF instead of Adis Jahovikj. The move nearly backfired in the opening minute when Tasevski gave the ball away cheaply in his own half of the field, but Wales wasted a counter attack opportunity.
In the 4th minute, the referee had a decision to make when Agim Ibraimi’s cross struck the hand of a Wales player inside the area. The Swiss referee, however, decided to wave play on and did not award a penalty to Macedonia. Two minutes later, Georgievski made a good low cross from the right that was just missed by the sliding Jovan Kostovski in front of the goal.
Keeper Tome Pachovski rescued Macedonia in the 14th minute when he made an important intervention to win the ball over Jonathan Williams who had beaten the offside trap.
Macedonia scored the opening goal in the 20th minute when Agim Ibraimi’s free kick struck the wall, but the ball then fell to Ivan Trichkovski who fired a right footed shot to the back of the net from inside the area. The goal was Ivan’s first for the national team since 26 March 2011 when he scored against the Republic of Ireland. Goran Pandev had a chance to extend the lead in the 27th minute, but his shot was hit right at the Wales keeper who punched the ball away to make the save.
A minute later, Wales nearly scored directly from a free kick, but Craig Bellamy’s effort struck the left goal post. Pachovski was beat as he could only watch as the ball came off the post.
Wales eventually scored the equalizer when Ivan Trichkovski fouled Aaron Ramsey inside the area. Ramsey took the penalty in the 39th minute and went right down the middle to level the score.
Just before halftime, Ramsey was fouled by Vanche Shikov. Pandev was not happy with Ramsey and went to confront him by grabbing his jersey while he was lying on the ground. Ramsey then shoved Pandev and other Wales players joined in to protect their teammate. In the end, Pandev and Wales CB Ashley Williams, who tried going after Pandev, were shown yellow cards by the referee.
In the 2nd half, Wales had the first quality chance in the 50th minute when Jack Collison shot just wide of the left goal post. The game then slowed down with both teams exchanging possession, but not creating many good opportunities. Noteworthy was the yellow card to Agim Ibraimi in the 58th minute for kicking the ball away in disgust after he was called for a foul. That was Agim’s second yellow card in these qualifications, meaning he is suspended for the Scotland clash on 10 September. Janevski seemed disgusted by Ibraimi’s silly yellow card, and decided to substitute him in the 61st minute for fellow winger Aleksandar Trajkovski.
Goran Pandev should have scored in the 63rd minute after a good cross from the right by Daniel Georgievski, but Pandev inexplicably shot wide from a great position inside the area. It also came with his preferred left foot, but Goran missed the target. Another great chance was missed in the 71st minute by Ivan Trichkovski. On a counter attack, Pandev found Trichkovski whose first touch was too long and his effort was then much easier dealt with by the Wales keeper.
Macedonia finally broke the deadlock in the 80th minute when Aleksandar Trajkovski gathered the ball near the edge of the area and then unleashed a powerful right footed shot past the Wales keeper. It was the second consecutive match in which Trajkovski has scored a goal as he also got on the scoresheet in the Bulgaria friendly last month. Also, with Ibraimi suspended for Scotland, Trajkovski should get a chance to start in that match, looking to build on his good form.
Wales pressed looking for an equalizer, but Macedonia held strong at the back to hold on to the narrow win. Gareth Bale did not appear for the visitors as he stayed on the bench for the entire 90 minutes.
Video of the goals:
To view the match report, click here.