Macedonia recorded the first win in the second round of the new season in the UEFA Nations League after claiming the points away to Gibraltar.
photo by FFM: after the opening goal
Coach Blagoja Milevski made several changes from the first match against Bulgaria in order to rest some and give chance to others, including 2 debutantes. Keeper Dejan Iliev finally saw his NT debut as he started between the posts. The defense was compiled of Ezgjan Alioski on the left, Visar Musliu and debutante Nikola Serafimov as CBs and Todor Todoroski on the right. In the midfield there were Elif Elmas, Enis bardhi, Stefan Spirovski and Boban Nikolov, while up front Milan Ristovski and Aleksandar Trajkovski. After his great performance in the opening round, it is surprising that David Babunski did not get a chance to play from the 1st minute in Gibraltar.
As expected Macedonia started attacking and having the initiative. Right in the 3rd minute Trajkovski scored, but his goal was ruled out for offside, as VAR confirmed as well. For minutes later Ristovski did a nice maneuver inside the box and fired with his right leg only to hit the crossbar.
Gibraltar could have broken the deadlock in the 17th minute when Musliu made a disastrous mistake after making a clumsy back pass to Iliev, Valarino intercepted the ball but missed the target from a tight angle.
In the 20th minute Nikolov fired a good shot, but Coleing made a save giving Macedonia corner kick. Bardhi took the corner kick by making a short pass to Alioski who right away gave him back the ball, Bardhi penetrated into the box and scored the opening goal.
Enis Bardhi 🤌
— Football Macedonia (@MacedonianFoot_) June 5, 2022
Spirovski had two shots from outside the box in the 28th and 40th minute, but once missed the target and later Coleing made a save. Meanwhile in the 32st Nikolov unsuccessfully tried again. Three minutes before the break Iliev made his first save on an attempt by Lopes.
The second half was more quiet, although the hosts threatened on several occasions. In the 60th minute Walker tried but missed the goal, while two minutes later the same player took a free kick but Iliev saved.
In the 79th minute substitute Dorian Babunski found Miovski who’s shot was not good and sent the ball wide. Five minutes later Dorian assisted to Nikolov with a back heel pass, Olivero was guarding the ball thinking that home keeper Coleing would collecting it, but Nikolov somehow managed to get his leg and put the ball in the home net thus doubling the lead. That was the final score.
Later today Bulgaria hosts Georgia in the other match. Macedonia now will head home to Skopje where first of Thursday hosts Georgia, while on Sunday plays with Gibraltar.
Facts regarding the match:
- 40th appearance for Elif Elmas
- 10th goal for Enis Bardhi (equals Ilija Nestorovski)
- 4th goal for Boban Nikolov
- 3rd win in 3 matches against Gibraltar (8:0 goal-difference)
- with Iliev and Serafimov debuting today so far Macedonia has used a total of 273 players
- Dejan Iliev is the 24th goalkeeper to appear for Macedonia
- Boban Babunski and David Babunski become first father and son to get booked for Macedonia