Germany lost a World Cup qualification game for the first time in 20 years on Wednesday, falling 2-1 to North Macedonia.
Germany leveled after Goran Pandev’s opening goal in first-half stoppage time, but North Macedonia’s Eljif Elmas’ 85th-minute winner lifted them above Germany into the second position in Group J. Armenia is the surprising king, having won all three games so far, after coming from behind to overcome Romania 3-2.
‘The truth is that this clearly should not have happened,’ Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan told RTL.
Pandev scored after Germany’s defense lost sight of the veteran Genoa forward. Gundogan, on the other hand, equalized from the spot in the 63rd minute after Leroy Sane was taken down by Ezgjan Alioski.
North Macedonia should have had a penalty for obvious handball by Emre Can at a corner, but the referee missed it. For qualifiers, there is no video analysis scheme.
Soon after, Timo Werner wasted Germany’s best opportunity to go forward, scuffing a shot wide when one-on-one with the goalkeeper off Gundogan’s breakaway ball.
North Macedonia made the breakthrough when Germany pushed for another goal. As Pandev pulled away from the German defenders, Arijan Ademi squared the ball between Antonio Rudiger’s eyes, allowing Elmas to score past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Germany has gone 35 games undefeated in World Cup qualifying after a 5-1 defeat to England in Munich in 2001 and had secured its last 18 in a row as it seeks a spot in the Qatar 2022 tournament.
North Macedonia has never competed in a World Cup but will make its European Championship debut this year after Pandev scored the game-winning goal in a playoff against Georgia in November.
It was the last qualification game of Germany coach Joachim Low’s 15-year tenure, which ends after the European Championship in June and July.