North Macedonia dizzy Germany with a 2-1 victory in World Cup qualifying in Duisburg, as the 85th minute winner Eljif Elmas earned the Balkan country what is arguably their biggest victory in their history.
Germany dominated the first half with 70% possession, but despite Leon Goretzka hitting the crossbar, it was the visitors who took the lead when 37-year-old striker Goran Pandev was missed. scored in the box to hit home in the first half timeout. .
The hosts equalized from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute with Ilkay Gündogan converting after Leroy Sané was knocked down in the box. Timo Werner missed a golden opportunity with 10 minutes remaining, while on the other end Emre Can may have been lucky enough not to concede a handball penalty.
In the end, it didn’t matter as Napoli midfielder Elmas found space in the box to make a cut for the winner. The victory lifted North Macedonia over Germany on goal difference in Group J. Armenia are the surprise squad leaders after scoring a 3-2 home win Romania earlier Wednesday.
“These guys made North Macedonia proud of winning four World Cup titles and three European championships,” said North Macedonia coach Igor Angelovski. “We have never beaten a team with so many titles. Now we have to rest, because what we have achieved has still not been achieved.
The defeat was Germany’s first at home in World Cup qualifying since losing 5-1 to England in 2001, and came in coach Joachim Löw’s last qualifying game in charge. Löw will step down after this summer’s delayed European Championship, for which North Macedonia qualified through the Nations League play-offs.
“It’s bitterly disappointing,” Löw said. “We weren’t fresh enough, we made mistakes. When we played fast we were dangerous but didn’t find the tools really threatening. Overall it was disappointing to lose like that at home. In the other Group J match, Iceland won a 4-1 victory in Liechtenstein.
Spain climbed to the top of Group B with a 3-1 home win Kosovo in Sevilla despite a yell from goalkeeper Unai Simón, who rushed out of his goal to allow Besar Halimi to pull off a goal for the visitors in the 70th minute.
Dani Olmo’s tricky chip put Spain in the lead in the 34th minute, with Ferran Torres adding two minutes later. Gerard Moreno restored Spain’s two-goal cushion five minutes after Simon’s mistake. Elsewhere, Georgia followed by last week’s narrow loss to Spain in a 1-1 draw Greece.
Italy kept their start of qualifying at 100% with a hard-fought 2-0 win Lithuania in Group C. Stefano Sensi hit the opening two minutes into the second half before Ciro Immobile’s penalty kicked things off in Vilnius.
The squad already looks like a direct fight between Italy and Switzerland after Northern Ireland and Bulgaria played a 0-0 draw. “The glass is half full; Switzerland won only 1-0 at home against Lithuania three days ago, ”said Italy coach Roberto Mancini. “You can’t be brilliant all the time, but the important thing was to win.”
Antoine Griezmann struck again as France took control of Group D with an away win Bosnia and herzegovina. Griezmann managed Adrien Rabiot’s cross to take the win after Hugo Lloris denied the hosts an opener in the first half.
“Our first half was below normal,” France coach Didier Deschamps said afterwards. “It was better after the break but I saw things that I hadn’t seen in a while.” After holding France to a 1-1 draw last week, Ukraine tripped over the same score at home from the lower side of the group, Kazakhstan.
Denmark top of Group F with three wins by a total score of 14-0 after battling Austria 4-0 in Vienna. Spurs midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg was among the goals as Denmark kept a four-point lead over Scotland, who beat the Faroe Islands by the same score.