Stefan Lainer, Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautović were on target as Austria overcame a staunch North Macedonia side to record their first ever EURO victory.
Franco Foda’s Austria downed debutants North Macedonia to get off to a flying start and earn the Alpine country’s first EURO win at the third time of trying – having not won a game in their two previous EURO campaigns, 2008 and 2016.
Match in brief
In a frenetic opening to the contest, Stefan Lainer broke the deadlock on 18 minutes, lunging to reach Marcel Sabitzer’s exquisitely floated delivery and finish with a controlled side-footed volley – the first time Austria have scored in the first half of a match in a major tournament since 1982.
Ten minutes later, however, the Lynxes broke from their resolute defensive blockade to hit back. Ezgjan Alioski’s cross-field ball ricocheted into the stride of Aleksandar Trajkovski, whose opportunity looked to have faded only for goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann to push the ball into the path of Goran Pandev, who reacted quickest to roll it into the open goal and restore parity.
As the fast pace continued into the second half, Austria probed and on 78 minutes substitute Michael Gregoritsch pounced at the near post to steer David Alaba’s sensational cross past Stole Dimitrievski. Fellow replacement Marko Arnautović wrapped up the win – Austria’s first ever EURO victory – with a minute left on the clock after linking with Konrad Laimer to create a one-on-one with Dimitrievski.
Star of the Match: David Alaba (Austria)
“He was very good defensively. His cross for Austria’s second goal was superb. He communicated constantly with his team, and showed personality on the ball.
Cosmin Contra, UEFA Technical Observer
Jordan Maciel, Austria reporter
After a bright start, it looked like it was going to be another one of those days for Austria. Another missed opportunity, more ‘what if’ moments and more pressure on Foda and his team. But they continued to push forward against a brave North Macedonia side and were eventually rewarded with a historic result. A first EURO win and one that can act as a big springboard into the last 16.
Igor Panevski, North Macedonia reporter
North Macedonia did not succeed in earning their first point at a EURO; however, they have not disappointed their fans. Pandev converted North Macedonia’s historic first EURO goal, and the side will be confident of securing some points against Ukraine.
Michael Gregoritsch, Austria forward: “I’ve had a difficult year, two years, and it wasn’t a given that I’d be in the final EURO squad. I’ve given my all in every training session and thank God I scored. I’m totally overwhelmed right now.”
Igor Angelovski, North Macedonia coach: “I cannot describe the atmosphere our fans gave us, and I’m sorry we couldn’t respond with a more positive result. I hope we will make them proud in the next game.”
Franco Foda, Austria coach: “At half-time we said we wanted to play the ball forward quicker, which we did much better. We were a lot more mobile. Above all, the substitutions really paid off. Gregoritsch and Arnautović gave the team new impetus. Overall I think it was a deserved win.”
Marcel Sabitzer, Austria midfielder: “It’s so important to start like that. After conceding, we stayed calm and deserved the win. That was really important for the mood in the team. Now hopefully we can spread some euphoria throughout the country.”
Stefan Lainer, Austria defender: “The ball from Sabitzer was brilliant, I just had to stretch for it. I’m really happy and I hope that all of Austria is sharing our joy. We were certain at half-time that we could turn the game around because we were the better team.”
- Austria have won all three meetings between the sides – the previous two matches were in the qualifying campaign for EURO 2020 (2-1 in Austria, 4-1 in North Macedonia).
- Austria have kept just one clean sheet in their last seven EURO final tournament matches.
- Austria have lost only two of their last 12 international matches (W7 D3 L2)
- This is the first game Austria have won at a major finals since beating the United States 2-1 at the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
- North Macedonia have only failed to score in one of their last 16 international matches.
Austria: Bachmann; Dragović (Lienhart 46), Alaba, Hintergger; Lainer, Sabitzer, Laimer (Baumgartlinger 90+3), X. Schlager (Ilsanker 90+4), Ulmer; Baumgartner (Gregoritsch 58), Kalajdzic (Arnautović 59)
North Macedonia: Dimitrievski; S. Ristovski, D. Velkovski, Musliu (Ristovski 86); Nikolov (Bejtulai 63), Bardi (Tričkovski 82), Ademi, Elmas, Alioski; Pandev, Trajkovski (Kostadinov 63)