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

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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. 

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.