Macedonia could not match the intensity of their opponents in the opening half and woke up too late on their way to a 1:2 home defeat against Scotland.
From the outset of the game, Scotland looked to be hungrier and more motivated to achieve a win. The opening 45 minutes were a rather dull affair with few quality chances, but Scotland looked the more threatening side. In particular, Scotland’s left winger Ikechi Anya was giving right-back Daniel Georgievski some problems with his quickness and dribbling abilities. Most of the good work by Scotland was done on that side.
The first shot that actually resulted in a save came in the 12th minute when keeper Tome Pachovski made a comfortable save on a free kick. Macedonia, on the other end, looked out of sorts on attack and didn’t trouble the Scottish goal until near the end of the 1st half.
In the 32nd minute, Macedonia called on Pachovski again to make a great save to deny Scott Brown. The Scottish midfielder beat the offside trap after a clever pass, but Pachovski rushed out of his goal and made a great save. Scotland had another chance minutes before halftime when Anya’s shot was once again saved by Pachovski before going out for a corner kick.
David Babunski, who got his first start for the senior national team, lasted until the 42nd minute when he was substituted by Darko Tasevski.
The best opportunity for Macedonia came in the 44th minute, but Adis Jahovikj squandered a big chance when he shot wide from close range. The chance came when Tome Pachovski gathered the ball, made a great long throw to Aleksandar Trajkovski who then made a few dribbles before finding Jahovikj who missed the big chance to hand the home side the win. However, that lead would have undeserving based on the overall play of the national team. Not surprisingly, the fans in attendance were not happy with the display and booed the team as they left the field for the halftime break.
A bizarre thing occurred as the 2nd half got underway. The French referee blew the whistle to signal the start of the 2nd half, but Tome Pachovski was still not in the Macedonian goal. Five seconds elapsed before the game was stopped, and that’s when Pachovski came running out of the tunnel to move into the Macedonian goal. Players had a laugh with what happened as did the referee. Once Pachovski settled in his goal, the referee then blew his whistle to get the 2nd half officially started.
Macedonia did play with more of a sense of urgency in the 2nd half, but decision making led to many wasteful moments. There would be flashes when a player seemed to have plenty of room, but they would take too many dribbles or make a poor pass to thwart the attack.
The breakthrough finally came in the 59th minute when Anya controlled a ball and then fired a shot just inside of the right goal post..
Being a goal down, there was a sense of desperation on the Macedonian players who pushed players forward looking for an equalizer. Ivan Trichkovski had an attempt in the 70th minute that was saved by the Scotland keeper who also prevented a rebound. The next chance came in the 73rd minute through a powerful right footed shot by substitute Mirko Ivanovski that the Scotland keeper parried away for a corner.
On the other end, Shaun Maloney came close to making it 0:2 with his shot going inches wide of the post.
Macedonia kept pressing and Ivanovski had another go in the 79th minute that went over the goal. The equalizer finally came in the 84th minute when Jovan Kostovski, who came on a minute earlier for Adis Jahovikj, controlled a pass from Pandev and then sent his effort to the back of the net.
However, the draw was short lived as Shaun Maloney then scored directly from a free kick in the 88th minute. Pachovski dove and extended himself as much as he could, but Maloney’s free kick was perfectly placed for the game winning goal. Macedonia did have a chance to equalize moments later when Darko Tasevski sent a precise cross that was headed wide by Jovan Kostovski.
The final chance came in the third and final minute of stoppage time when Lee Thompson just missed extending the Scotland lead to 1:3. His shot went just wide of the right goal post.
To view the match report, click here.