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Austria vs North Macedonia. European Championships Group C.

National ArenaAttendance9,082.

Austria 3

  • S Lainer (18th minute)
  • M Gregoritsch (78th minute)
  • M Arnautovic (89th minute)

North Macedonia 1

  • G Pandev (28th minute)

Austria 3-1 North Macedonia: Marko Arnautovic scores as Austria secure victory in Group C opener

Match report as Austria battle past North Macedonia to secure a 3-1 victory in the opening game in group C in Bucharest; In group's other game, Netherlands see off late Ukraine fight back to secure thrilling 3-2 win

Austria opened their Euro 2020 campaign with a 3-1 win over North Macedonia
Image: Austria opened their Euro 2020 campaign with a 3-1 win over North Macedonia

Austria opened their Euro 2020 campaign with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over North Macedonia in Bucharest.

Franco Foda's side were sent on their way by a brilliant finish from Stefan Lainer (18), who volleyed home Marcel Sabitzer's superb cross.

However, a comedy of errors in the Austrian defence allowed North Macedonia, who were playing in their first match at a major tournament, back in before the break. Veteran striker Goran Pandev (28) capitalised on the mix-up and produced a historic moment to bring his side level.

After the break, North Macedonia had their moments as Daniel Bachmann denied Boban Nikolov, but they eventually began to tire, and substitute Michael Gregoritsch (78) converted David Alaba's cross to break North Macedonian hearts before former West Ham forward Marko Arnautovic (89) - another substitute - struck late on to round off proceedings.

Victory sees Austria lead Group C on goal difference after Netherlands saw off a late Ukraine fight back to secure thrilling 3-2 victory on Sunday evening.

How Austria got their campaign up and running...

It was a huge occasion for North Macedonia, who were playing in their first game at a major tournament and it felt like a home game for them in Bucharest as choruses of boos rang out to greet early Austria possession.

However, those fans were quietened down in the 18th minute when Lainer produced a moment of magic to put Austria ahead. He was picked out at the far post by Sabitzer's cross-field pass and his acrobatic volley beat goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski from a tight angle.

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Konrad Laimer held up a tribute to Christian Eriksen after scoring the opener in Bucharest
Image: Konrad Laimer held up a tribute to Christian Eriksen after scoring the opener in Bucharest

The lead didn't last long, though, as Pandev pounced on a comedy of errors in the Austria defence.

Martin Hinteregger's clearance hit Sabitzer and the ball rebounded towards Aleksandar Trajkovski. Daniel Bachmann raced out to win the ball, but he also made a complete mess of the save and the ball fell kindly for Pandev, who had a simple finish to net North Macedonia's first goal in a major tournament.

Goran Pandev scored North Macedonia's first Euros goal
Image: Goran Pandev scored North Macedonia's first Euros goal

Just before the hour mark, Austria brought on Gregoritsch and Arnautovic to replace Felix Baumgartner and Sasa Kalajdzic, and Gregoritsch almost made an instant impact, but his deft header was superbly palmed away by Dimitrievski.

North Macedonia began to tire but they did create an opening as Nikolo forced Bachmann into a smart block. In the end, though, it was not to be for the tournament's lowest-ranked team.

Gregoritsch prodded home David Alaba's cross in the 78th minute before Arnautovic struck in the 89th as Austria earned a first win at the Euros at their seventh attempt and their first victory at a major tournament since the 1990 World Cup.

What the managers said...

Austria boss Franco Foda: "We deservedly won and congratulations to the lads, they wrote history today.

"Overall I'm very satisfied, we started well and deservedly scored the opener. We could have scored a second, but then we didn't focus in one moment and conceded the equaliser. In the second half we talked about two or three things, to play faster and more on the wings. We were more agile and the substitutes showed their effect.

"The substitutes were important, which is why you have players on the bench. A team consists of 26 players. With Marko, in preparation he was injured, didn't train that much and that's why I decided to bring him on later.

"This last week he trained with us more, but I don't know if we want to start him or play him for 60 or 70 minutes (in the next game against Holland). The players see it in a different way, but Marko is a key player in our team."

North Macedonia boss Igor Angelovski: "I can't not be proud of my players who qualified. We functioned well, there were moments where we had possession and control of the situation," said

"The key was the second goal from Austria, but there is no room for disappointment. We have to improve ourselves in order not to repeat the mistakes we have done. The aim was to provide chances for Goran in attack and we knew we played against a national team who run a lot.

"I'm speechless about the atmosphere our supporters created. I hope we can reward them with a good result in the next match. We've two matches to go and will start to prepare ourselves for the next game against Ukraine."

Man of the match - David Alaba

David Alaba was a key figure for Austria
Image: David Alaba was a key figure for Austria

It wasn't the easiest of nights for Austria as they were forced to work extremely hard to seal their first Euros victory against North Macedonia.

Alaba will certainly have easier games, but the Austria captain was always looking for the ball and got his side moving as they eventually broke down a tiring North Macedonia.

It was his inch-prefect cross that set up Gregoritsch for Austria's second which proved crucial in securing all three points.

Opta stats - Austria seal first Euros win

Austria secured their first ever win at a European Championships
Image: Austria secured their first ever win at a European Championships
  • Austria have secured their first ever win at a European Championships in what was their seventh game. Indeed, they netted more goals today (3) than in their previous six matches in the competition combined (2).
  • 50% of North Macedonia's defeats in their last 21 matches have come against Austria (3/6), also suffering two defeats during the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign against the Austrians (1-4 at home & 2-1 away).
  • Including their second and third today, four of Austria's five goals in European Championship finals have come via substitutes, with Marko Arnautovic and Michael Gregoritsch the first pair of players to score from the bench for the same country in the competition since Michy Batshuayi and Yannick Carrasco did so for Belgium (v Hungary) in 2016.
  • Stefan Lainer's opener was just his second goal for Austria, with his only other international strike also coming against North Macedonia. Indeed, it was also the very first time Austria took the lead in a European Championship encounter.
  • Only eight other players selected for this summer's European Championships have won more caps for their country than North Macedonia's Goran Pandev, who earned his 120th cap against Austria, scoring his 38th international goal.
  • Aged 37 years and 321 days, North Macedonia's Goran Pandev became the fourth oldest outfielder to appear at the European Championships, after Lothar Matthäus (Germany), Morten Olsen (Denmark) and Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal).
  • Pandev's equaliser for North Macedonia made him the second oldest goalscorer in a European Championship match (37y 321d), with only Austrian Ivica Vastic (38y 257d) managing to net at an older age in the competition.
  • Three of Marko Arnautovic's 27 international goals for Austria have come against North Macedonia, the most he's managed against a single nation.

What's next?

Both teams are back in action on Thursday with North Macedonia facing Ukraine in Bucharest (kick-off 2pm) and Austria playing Netherlands in Amsterdam (kick-off 8pm).

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