Soccer-Gregoritsch, Arnautovic strike late to finish Austria’s lengthy wait

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BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Late objectives from substitutes Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic gave Austria a convincing 3-1 victory over European Championship debutants North Macedonia of their opening Group C conflict on Sunday as they earned their first event victory in 31 years.

Gregoritsch prodded house David Alaba’s cross within the 78th minute earlier than Arnautovic struck within the 89th, as Austria earned a primary win on the Euros at their seventh try and their first victory at a significant event because the 1990 World Cup.

“We deserved to win immediately,” Austria coach Franco Foda mentioned. “The gamers made historical past immediately. You may really feel kind the primary minute that they needed to win it.”

“The substitutions had an impact and introduced new impulse. They have been vital and the crew did every thing to win it.”

“I’m very glad. We began nicely and have been aggressive. Then they scored by way of a momentary lapse of focus from us,” Foda mentioned.

“After the break we needed to extend our passing pace. We have been extra cell. We did it rather well.”

The Austrians, who began unusually with Alaba in central defence, had possession and circulated the ball nicely however struggled to interrupt by way of till Marcel Sabitzer floated a perfectly-timed cross to the far publish.

Stefan Lainer latched on to it, leaping into the air to beat keeper Stole Dimitrievski from a good angle.

The North Macedonians, the lowest-ranked crew within the event, drew degree with their first likelihood of the sport 10 minutes later when defender Martin Hinteregger’s clearance first bounced off the again of Sabitzer and keeper Daniel Bachmann then let the ball slip for captain Goran Pandev to fit in.

That was his nation’s first ever purpose in a significant event and the ahead, who has 38 objectives in 120 appearances, additionally grew to become the second-oldest participant to attain on the Euro, after Austria’s Ivica Vastic, who was 38 again in 2008.

Pandev had one other likelihood simply previous the hour after Boban Nikolov had did not beat Bachmann as Austria continued to wrestle up entrance and hoped this may not be one other missed alternative.

Foda was compelled to modify to a formation with two strikers, bringing on forwards Arnautovic and Gregoritsch and the transfer paid off, and shifting Alaba right into a midfield position.

Gregoritsch timed his run to perfection to faucet in Alaba’s cross earlier than keeper Risto Jankov bought his fingers on the ball.

Arnautovic then pounced on a defensive mistake to around the keeper and seal the Austrians’ first event win in 31 years.

Austria play the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Thursday, whereas North Macedonia keep in Bucharest to face Ukraine.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, Writing by Karolos Grohmann, modifying by Ed Osmond)

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