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North Macedonia Hands Germany First World Cup Qualifying Loss in Nearly 20 Years

North Macedonia earned the biggest win in the nation's short history with a 2-1 away win against Germany, handing the 2014 world champions their first World Cup qualifying loss since September 2001 and only their third ever in their storied history (vs. England, 2001; vs. Portugal, 1985).

Germany entered the match on a 35-match unbeaten streak (31-0-4) in World Cup qualifying, but 65th-ranked North Macedonia put a scare into four-time World Cup winners at the end of the first half when former Inter Milan star Goran Pandev, the nation's all-time leading scorer and 37-year-old veteran, put the underdogs ahead. 

It seemed like only a matter of time before Germany would awaken, and when Ilkay Gundogan converted a penalty in the 63rd minute, the North Macedonian dream appeared to be over. But Jogi Low's side failed to put away the visitors; Timo Werner's wide-open miss on a tap-in in the 80th minute summarized the night for the Germans and kept North Macedonia's hopes alive.

It was rewarded for its persistence in the 85th minute when Eljif Elmas got a hold of a cross and finished past Marc-Andre ter Stegen from point-blank range. North Macedonia held on for the win, sparking selfies and national chants from the players on the field. 

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The landmark win comes on the heels of North Macedonia qualifying for this summer's European Championship, its first major tournament since being recognized by FIFA in 1994.