Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will auto-play soon8CancelPlay now
Want Euro 2020 news sent straight to your inbox? Sign up to our email updates
Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.Sign UpWhen you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Your information will be used in accordance with ourPrivacy Notice.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy notice
Igor Angelovski insisted his North Macedonia side weren’t coming to Euro 2020 just to make up the numbers.
And for 78 minutes of their Group C opener against Austria, they proved his promise right.
Ultimately however, extra quality spared Austrian blushes in a 3-1 victory..
North Macedonia, the tournament’s lowest ranked side, started well in Bucharest and were understandably well up for a battle with their more illustrious opponents.
But that good work was undone when Austria opened the scoring with arguably the best goal of the tournament thus far.
Marcel Sabitzer expertly drilled a ball across goal for right-back Stefan Lainer to turn home on the volley.
Austria left it late to pick up all three points against the tournament's lowest ranked team
The cross was the game’s first real moment of class, but Lainer’s composed finish ensured supporters were only waiting a moment before the second.
Sabitzer almost created Austria’s second three minutes later when another perfectly placed centre was turned goalward, but straight at Stole Dimitrievski.
But the underdogs were given a route back into the game after a calamity of errors gifted a chance to 38-year-old Pandev.
Raheem Sterling fulfils childhood dream by firing England to perfect start at Euros
Christian Eriksen press conference in full as Denmark boss says playing on was wrong decision
After the ball bounced between two Austrian defenders, Watford keeper Daniel Bachmann conspired to push the ball to Goran Pandev and gift him a chance he was never going to pass up.
Igor Angelovski made his first priority as North Macedonia boss ensuring Goran Pandev would complete a U-turn after announcing his international retirement.
And six years on from those frank conversations in Italy, the greatest player in the nation’s history scored their most famous goal to bring them level in Romania.
Goran Pandev made history when he scored his nation's first goal at a major tournament
Who have been the best team to play in Euro 2020 so far? Let us know in the comments
It was a goal which also injected confidence into the side bookmakers rated as the biggest outsiders this summer.
In the second half, they continued to frustrate Austria, Dimitrievski in particular who made a full length save to paw away Michael Gregoritsch’s flicked header.
But Gregoritsch finally broke North Macedonia's resistance when he turned home David Alaba's inch-perfect cross with 13 minutes remaining.
And as the minutes ticked to 90, Marko Arnautovic, who was a second half substitute scored the clinching third, rounding the keeper and scoring, before completing what looked an angry celebration.
With Ukraine in their next fixture, Angelovski's side will be hopeful they can still get the points required to meet his objective of reaching the knockout stages.
North Macedonia took to the scenic route to qualify for the tournament – winning their Nations League group – before beating Kosovo and Georgia in play-off ties.
Their performance was a testament to the fresh route offered to nations that otherwise may struggle to book their place in major tournaments.
As for Austria, they know that they will need to improve – and quickly – if they are to realise their own potential in the next month or so..