In a shocking turn of events, Germany’s national team lost to North Macedonia 2-1. This is Germany’s first World Cup qualifier defeat in the last 20 years. Consequently, Germany has fallen to third place in its group, with Armenia first and North Macedonia second.
The defeat came despite Germany controlling the game across practically all parameters. In the first half, Germany had 70% possession but failed to translate their dominance into a goal. Leon Goretzka came close to scoring, hitting the crossbar, but there was no follow-up. It was North Macedonia’s 37-year old Goran Pandev that scored in first-half stoppage time. Pandev was left completely unmarked in front of Stegen’s net, resulting in an easy goal for the North Macedonian team.
The equalizer came in the form of a penalty after Leroy Sane was fouled in the box. Gündoğan was precise from the penalty-spot, bringing the score to 1-1. However, Germany’s euphoria was short-lived, as Eljif Elmas brought the score to 2-1 in the 85th minute. Similarly to the situation from the first half of the game, the North Macedonian player was left unguarded in the box, which created practically unmissable chances for scoring. Obvious mistakes in Germany’s defense are probably going to be the focal point of after-match talks.
Speaking of unmissable chances, Werner once again showcased his terrible finishing ability, as his shot went wide of an open goal, wasting the opportunity to put Germany ahead. On the other hand, North Macedonia was probably due a penalty after Emre Can’s handball in the penalty box, but the referee didn’t spot the event. This is the second significant referee mistake stemming from the lack of VAR technology in the qualifiers so far. The first one denied Portugal a last-minute winning goal in the match against Serbia.
Germany has not lost a World Cup qualifier game since the 5-1 loss to England in 2001, playing 35 consecutive matches without defeat.