North Macedonia is the third and last opponent of the Dutch national team at next year’s European Championship. The ‘Red Lions’ took care of Georgia (1-0) in the all-deciding play-off on Thursday and reached the final round of an international tournament for the first time.
Grim opening phase of Georgia-North Macedonia
The only goal of the game was scored by veteran Goran Pandev. The Macedonian record international and former player of Lazio and Internazionale, among others, worked the ball in after a smooth attack in the penalty area of Georgia.
After Ukraine and Austria, North Macedonia is the third opponent of the Dutch national team at the European Championship, which starts next year on June 11. The Netherlands-Macedonia is the last game in group C and will be played on June 21. The Orange opens the European Championship on June 13 against Ukraine, after which Austria is the opponent four days later. All duels take place in the Johan Cruijff ArenA in Amsterdam.
The European Championship, which is being held in twelve different playing cities in twelve different countries in honor of the sixtieth anniversary of the European Championship, will be the first final tournament for the Orange since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Since then, the national selection has missed out on the 2016 European and 2018 World Cup.
Georgia and North Macedonia made it a tough match in Tbilisi. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Georgia and North Macedonia started grimly the all-decisive play-off match in front of empty stands in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. The countries, which had reached the playoffs via League D from the Nations League, alternated harsh fouls with intimidation back and forth, but the English referee Antony Taylor kept the cards in his pocket. The teams seldom came to chances.
After the break, North Macedonia took over the initiative from Georgia and that quickly resulted in Pandev’s opening goal. The 37-year-old striker got the ball back after a combination around the Georgian penalty area and punted the ball behind goalkeeper Giorgi Loria.
The Georgia of former Vitesse players Guram Kashia and Valeri Qazaishvili tried to force the equalizer with a final offensive, but North Macedonia simply held its own and grabbed a ticket for a European championship for the first time.
Later on Thursday, the last three tickets will be distributed for the European Championship. The play-off matches Hungary-Iceland, Northern Ireland-Slovakia and Serbia-Scotland are on the program from 8.45 p.m.