In a historic first, the Macedonian national football team made it to the 2021 European Championship. Macedonia beat Georgia 0:1 in Tbilisi this evening, after previously eliminating Kosovo, for the place kept for the teams that ranked third in their qualifying groups.
Macedonian captain Goran Pandev scored the only goal of the game, after deft assists from Elmas and Nestorovski. The goal, in the 56th minute, sent the country cheering. As soon as final whistle was heard, shouts, celebratory gunfire and soon, car convoys could be heard across Macedonia.
Pandev and his team were in great form, intercepting the Georgian attacks and defending well after their initial lead, while endangering the home team with counter-attacks.
The first half was measured, with both teams advancing carefully, with just a few direct shots on goal. Okriashvili forced Macedonian goal-keeper Dimitrievski into a save in the 28th minute, and had a near miss a few minutes later. Alioski responded with a cross to Pandev in the 35th minute, who attempted a long header into the goal which the Georgian keeper was barely able to kick out.
But the second half brought the real action, especially after Pandev’s goal, when the Georgian team had to go all out. Alioski and Elmas were supportive of their captain to keep the Georgians on their toes, and the midfielders kept possession. Ultimately, even with the four minutes of extra time, Macedonia held firm and came back with the all important win.
It now advances to Group C, with the Netherlands, Ukraine and Austria, which will play its games in Bucharest in mid June.