North Macedonia shocks Germany as France and England score victories

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By AFP 4h ago

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par Martyn WOOD
PARIS – Germany suffered a stunning 2-1 home loss to North Macedonia in the World Cup qualifiers on Wednesday, while defending champions France edged Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-0 and as England beat a Polish team missing the injured Robert Lewandowski.

Napoli midfielder Eljif Elmas scored a famous victory for North Macedonia in Duisburg, scoring five minutes from time to give his country a second victory in three Group J games.

Veteran forward Goran Pandev, 37, put the visitors in the lead just before half-time, but Ilkay Gundogan equalized on the spot after Leroy Sane suffered a foul in the area.

Timo Werner missed a glorious chance after coming off the bench, and Elmas doomed the four-time world champions to a first qualifying loss for the World Centerpiece since 2001 when he led an Arijan Ademi cut-back.

” I do not know how to explain it. It is not easy to do. We knew we couldn’t underestimate the opponent and I don’t think we did. We just weren’t good enough, ”Gundogan said.

“It’s not yet fully integrated. It’s a victory for the whole nation, ”said North Macedonian coach Igor Angelovski, whose team will make their European Championship debut this summer.

Germany are tied with North Macedonia in a section surprisingly led by Armenia, who won for the third time in as many games thanks to two late goals in a 3-2 win over Romania.

Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal of the game in Sarajevo as France registered a second away win in four days against Bosnia after their 2-0 victory in Kazakhstan at the weekend.

After being held 1-1 at home by Ukraine in their opener on the road to the 2022 final in Qatar, France are now in a strong position at the top of Group D.

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire hit a late winner for England as the 2018 World Cup semi-finalists beat Poland 2-1 at Wembley.

Harry Kane put England in the lead with a first-half penalty after a foul on Raheem Sterling, but a mistake by John Stones brought Poland to a level with Jakub Moder.

England regained the lead with five minutes remaining when Maguire crashed at home after center defensive partner Stones shoved a corner through the goal.

“It’s a great victory. We are playing to play at a World Cup, ”Maguire told ITV.

“John (Stones) has been brilliant this year. Defenders make mistakes and when we do, we get scrutinized. He compensated with a nice header at the far post. ”

The nervous victory means England lead Group I with nine points after wins earlier in the international window against San Marino and Albania.

Goals from Dani Olmo, Ferran Torres and second-half substitute Gerard Moreno secured Spain a 3-1 victory over Kosovo and top of Group B.

However, the qualifying match in Seville was overshadowed by a pre-match diplomatic dispute, stemming from the description of Kosovo as “territory” by the Spanish Football Federation when Spain’s group matches were published.

Stefano Sensi scored just after his introduction as a half-time substitute to help Italy, which did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup, to record a third consecutive victory in Group C.

Roberto Mancini’s side beat Lithuania 2-0 in Vilnius with Ciro Immobile adding a time-out penalty for the Azzurri.

Andreas Olsen scored twice as Denmark beat Austria 4-0 to take the lead in Group F, with Joakim Maehle and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg also on target in Vienna.

Scotland are second in the group after claiming a 4-0 victory over the Faroe Islands. John McGinn scored two goals while Che Adams and Ryan Fraser completed the scoring.

Iceland, in the same group as Germany, collected their first qualifying points with a 4-1 victory over Liechtenstein.

Northern Ireland drew 0-0 at home against Bulgaria while Ukraine was held 1-1 by Kazakhstan in Kiev, a third straight draw for the side coached by the former star of national team Andriy Shevchenko.

AFP

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