The first Group C meeting took place this Sunday afternoon between David Alaba’s Austria and Goran Pandev’s North Macedonia in the Arena Națională in Bucharest. The latter, 62nd nation in the world, was living a historic moment by playing the very first match in international competition in its history against Austria, 23rd in the FIFA rankings, more experienced. For this historic first, Igor Angelovski decided to align all of these executives: Pandev with Trajkovski in front of the trio of midfielder Elmas – Ademi – Bardhi, supported by the experienced winger from Leeds Alioski in defense with Musliu – Velkovski -Ristovski – Nikolov and Dimitrievski in goal. On the Austrian side, Franco Foda decided to position Alaba in defense alongside the Laimer – Dragović – Hinteregger – Ulmer quartet, in the middle Schalger, Laimer, Baumgartner or even Sabitzer were aligned. In front, Kalajdzic was alone and behind, Bachmann was in the cages.
At the start of the match the two nations surrendered the ball and did not get any really dangerous opportunity. It was not until the 18th minute of play to see a first opportunity and a first goal. On a magnificent cross from Marcel Sabitzer, the Borussia Monchengladbach side Stefan Lainer came to cut the trajectory of the ball and cross his shot to deceive the Macedonian goalkeeper. 1-0 for Austria. What a millimeter cross from the Leipzig midfielder. 5 minutes later, the Austrians returned to the attack and obtained another big opportunity with this missed recovery from Sasa Kalajdzic, found alone in the box. But North Macedonia was quick to show its fangs. Following a defensive disagreement between Alaba and Bachmann, Goran Pandev found himself in the box with the ball and an empty goal in front of him. The Genoa striker was quick to equalize in the 28th minute of play. A chance, a goal on a defensive error. 1-1 in this first period. Who other than him to score the first goal in Red Lions history in an international competition? The veteran (37 years) with 116 selections and 37 goals who then became the second oldest scorer in the history of the Euro.
37 – 37 years and 321 days old, Goran Pandev is the 2nd oldest player to score in a EURO meeting after Ivica Vastic with Austria against Poland in 2008 (38 years and 257 days). Golden. #AUTMAC # EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/rqeKQRguZ6
– OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 13, 2021
Valorous Red Lions for this historic first
At the break, the two teams returned to the locker room back to back in an interesting shock. After the locker room, Aleksandar Dragović, affected in the first period, gave way to Philipp Lienhart. Change position for position between two central defenders. The second half started like the first: very few chances but a lot of intensity. Austria kept the leather and North Macedonia tried to steal it with remarkable pressing. In the 58th minute of play, former West Ham and Stoke City striker Marko Arnautovic made his entry. From there the Red Lions spent the rest of the second half of the game in their box and only proceeded against. Michael Gregoritsch, who came into play a little earlier, got a huge chance with his head but the Macedonian goalkeeper saved his family with a well-felt tap (63rd).
In the 77th minute of play, captain David Alaba, positioned on the left side sent an excellent cross towards Michael Gregoritsch who recovered from the right. 2-1 for Austria, a score deserved in view of the second period. Since the return from the locker room, North Macedonia did not produce much despite a few badly negotiated opportunities in the last gesture in particular. At the very end of the match, Arnautovic even came to destroy the last Macedonian hopes and seal the result of this match. After a superb one-two with Konrad Laimer, the Shanghai SIPG striker dribbled the keeper and made the nets tremble (88th). 3-1 for Austria. The Red Lions have collapsed. And the score stayed there. A more experienced Austria whose second period was much better came to the end of a valiant North Macedonia and which could therefore come out of this meeting with regret. Ahead of tonight’s match between the Netherlands and Ukraine in Group C, Austria took the lead, beating North Macedonia.