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You are here: International WCQ 2014: Serbia - Macedonia 5:1

WCQ 2014: Serbia - Macedonia 5:1

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The picture says it all in how it went today; photo: ap.orgThe picture says it all in how it went today; photo: ap.orgAbysmal.  Inept.  Dreadful.  Choose any of those words and it would still be a disservice in how poorly Macedonia played to conclude their 2014 World Cup qualifying with a 5:1 shellacking against Serbia.

The score speaks for itself.  If the players wanted interim Zoran Stratev to remain manager, they certainly didn't play like it in a dismal performance, both offensively and defensively.

Macedonia made two changes in the starting lineup from the Wales game with Boban Grncharov starting for the suspended Vanche Shikov at right CB and Jovan Kostovski getting the nod for the absent Goran Pandev in attack.  The other nine starters were the same as in the Wales qualifier four days earlier.  Serbia, unlike Wales who was missing many regulars, fielded a strong lineup and completely dismantled Macedonia.

It was evident early on that Macedonia was in for a long night with the majority of the action taking place on the visitor's side of the field.  Serbia signaled its intent in the opening minute when Filip Đorđević and Dušan Tadić combined to send an effort just wide of the right goal post.  Four minutes later, Noveski made an important clearance in front of the Macedonian goal after Tadić tried to play Đorđević with a cross from the right.

Macedonia called on keeper Tome Pachovski to make a great save in the 10th minute when he denied a shot by an unmarked Tadić from close range.  From the subsequent corner, the ball would eventually reach Matija Nastasić whose effort went narrowly wide of the left goal post.

Serbia did get its deserved goal in the 16th minute courtesy of an own goal by Stefan Ristovski.  Zoran Tošić passed the ball to his teammate Dušan Basta whose low across across goal was sent to the back of the net by Ristovski for an own goal.  A minute later, Basta, who was a thorn in Macedonia's side and presented a lot of problems for left-back Ezgjan Alioski, unleashed a powerful shot from distance that went just wide of the right goal post.

The home side extended their lead to 2:0 in the 19th minute when a powerful low cross by Aleksandar Kolarov from the left hand side was sent home to Basta.  Kolarov almost made it 3:0 in the 23rd minute when his thundering shot from inside the area was saved by the outstretched left leg of Pachovski.

In the 37th minute, Basta once again proved a menace when his shot, that was deflected off of Noveski, went inches wide of the post, still resulting in a corner.  From the resulting corner, Boban Grncharov made a reckless challenge to foul Branislav Ivanović inside the area, leading the referee to immediate point to the spot.  Kolarov took the penalty and was able to beat Pachovski this time for a 3:0 halftime lead.

In the opening 45 minutes, Macedinia did not attempt one shot on goal.  Instead, the only effort that was even attempted came in the 20th minute when Agim Ibraimi shot wide from long range.

To start the 2nd half, Stratev replaced Ibraimi and put Aleksandar Trajkovski in his place on the right wing.  The change failed to create a spark as Serbia continued its domination in the game.  The lead ballooned to 4:0 in the 54th minute when Basta won the ball against Alioski before then finding Tadić who had a ton of space and easily scored past Pachovski.

Macedonia had a brief chance in the 63rd minute thanks to a blooper by the Serbian keeper Vladimir Stojković.  Substitute David Babunski, who had come on minutes earlier, took a high free kick which was bobbled and dropped by Stojković in front of his goal.  Jovan Kostovski and Boban Grncharov tried to pounce on the rebound, but Stojković reacted the quickest and was able to gather the ball.

Serbia added its fifth goal in the 73rd minute when that man Basta, once again, made a cross from the right that was headed home by substitute striker Stefan Šćepović.  The rout was on and Macedonia looked likely to suffer its worst loss in international play (they had lost by five goals in three earlier instances) considering that were still around 20 minutes remaining (including stoppage time).

That record in futility was avoided, though, when Adis Jahovikj, who had just entered the game moments earlier, scored a great individual goal by dribbling past several Serbian players before slotting a shot past Stojković.  That proved to be the only shot on goal for Macedonia for the entire game.  Serbia had a great chance to reclaim its five goal advantage in stoppage time of the 90th minute, but Nemanja Matić shot narrowly wide after being set up with a cross by Kolarov.

To view the match report, click here.

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