Substitutes Guide Austria To Win Over Euro Debutants North Macedonia

REUTERS

Austria finally registered a first European Championship win at the seventh attempt as they ruined North Macedonia's first outing at a major tournament with a 3-1 triumph in Bucharest.

Substitutes Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic both scored in the final 12 minutes to make sure Franco Foda's side claimed all three points from the Group C tussle.

After fellow debutants Finland recorded a 1-0 triumph over Denmark on Saturday, North Macedonia had appeared on course to mark their maiden appearance with a point against opponents who beat them twice in qualifying.

 

Having struck in the second leg to see off Georgia in the play-offs and secure a spot at Euro 2020, Goran Pandev became the second oldest scorer in the competition's history when he capitalised on an unexpected opportunity to tap in an equaliser.

Goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann failed to hold on when sliding out to grab the ball ahead of Aleksandar Trajkovski, a three-way collision also involving David Alaba allowing the ever-alert Pandev to convert into an unguarded net with his team's first attempt.

Austria had opened the scoring with an eye-catching goal, Marcel Sabitzer's raking pass finding the advancing Stefan Lainer, who showed impressive attacking instincts for a defender with a side-footed volley from a tight angle that flashed beyond Stole Dimitrievski.

There was not so much to admire about the build-up play and finish for North Macedonia's equaliser, not that they cared too much.

Arnautovic was summoned from the bench early in the second half to try and inspire Austria, though it was fellow replacement Gregoritsch who scored the game's crucial third goal, the Augsburg forward making a near-post run to apply the finishing touch to Alaba's inviting cross from the left flank. 
 
Any hope of a tiring North Macedonia rallying for a second time disappeared when Arnautovic went clean through in the 89th minute, calmly rounding Dimitrievski to wrap up the victory. 

What's next?

Both teams are back in action on Thursday. North Macedonia will be remaining in Bucharest for their second fixture, against Ukraine. Austria, meanwhile, move on to Amsterdam to take on the Netherlands.


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