Austria won its first-ever European Cup finals after beating newcomer North Macedonia 3-1 on Sunday in the first round of Group C competition.
It is the first victory for the Austrian team in the finals of the continental championship after two participations in 2008 and 2016 that ended with two losses and a draw in each.
Austria has never won a World Cup final match in 31 years, specifically since the 1990 World Cup in Italy, when it beat the USA 2-1.
Later in the same group, the Netherlands will host its Ukrainian counterpart at the “Johan Cruyff Arena”.
“I had a difficult season, and two years ago it was not a given that I was on the list of participants in the Euros,” said Austrian Michael Grigorić, who scored the second goal for his country and 700 in the history of the finals, according to what was quoted by the European Football Association (UEFA) website. I scored. I’m totally amazed now.”
The match bore a special flavor for Goran Pandev, the historical leader of North Macedonia, which is playing in the finals of a major tournament for the first time in its history, as he became, according to “Opta” statistics, at the age of 37 years and 321 days, the second largest scorer in the history of “Euro”, behind the Austrian top scorer Ivica Vastic. Who scored at the age of 38 years and 257 days in the 2008 finals from a penalty kick against Poland in the group stage to impose a 1-1 draw.
Pandev is the national team’s top scorer (38) and the most capped player in international matches with the “red lions” (119).
The Italian Genoa player began his international career on June 6, 2001, 20 years ago, and played most of his career in Italian stadiums, moving between Ancona, Lazio, Inter and Napoli.
At the Arena Nazionale in the Romanian capital Bucharest, Austria opened the scoring after a long cross pass from Leipzig captain Marcel Sabitzer to the stalking Borussia Moenchengladbach full-back Stefan Lainer at the post, followed by “on the fly” reversal in the net of goalkeeper Stoli Dimitrievsky (18th).
Liner celebrated his goal, raising a white shirt that read, “Eriksen, stay strong.”
Austria almost dealt a knockout blow to its rival, but Dmitrievsky saved two shots from the Stuttgart striker Sasha Kaladjic (22 s).
And just Pandev for his country, scoring in the empty goal after he benefited from a hesitation between the captain of Austria, defender David Alaba, and his goalkeeper, Daniel Bachmann, who awkwardly came out of his own net to collide with striker Alexander Trakovci (28th).
In the second half, Dmitrievsky stood in front of substitute Michael Grigoric’s header (s 64), before the latter deceived him after he continued with a cross shot from Alaba in the goal (s 78).
Austria dealt the final blow to Macedonia, after the other substitute, Marko Arnautovic, took advantage of a side throw to penetrate the ball, pass the goalkeeper and hit the empty goal (89th s).
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