The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia picked up the first win of their qualifying Group A campaign as Agim Ibraimi's second-half penalty sunk ten-man Serbia in Skopje.
The victory was a first for coach Cedomir Janevski, but also signalled a second straight loss for Serbia who fall further behind the front two of Belgium and Croatia after both recorded wins. Following a home defeat by Croatia on Friday, Janevski made seven changes to his lineup, and Ibraimi's strike on 59 minutes ensured the risk paid off.
After a slow start, it was the visitors who bared their teeth first. On 19 minutes, Dušan Tadić and Zoran Tošić exchanged passes before the former rattled a shot just wide from the edge of the area. Captain Aleksandar Kolarov then threatened the home goal with a trademark free-kick that looped a fraction off target. However, it was the hosts who spurned the clearest opening of the half, as two minutes before the interval Mirko Ivanovski collected Boban Grncarov's lofted ball expertly, before shooting wide with only Željko Brkić to beat.
The game hinged on the penalty incident 14 minutes into the second half. Ibraimi sent Feran Hasani into the box, and the winger was felled by Nenad Tomović who was shown a red card. Ibraimi kept his cool from the spot and add to his goal against Croatia.
Serbia coach Siniša Mihajlović threw on forwards Miralem Sulejmani and Dejan Lekić as he went hunting for an equaliser, which almost came through Tadić's powerful shot, but Tome Pacovski resisted in the home goal. Serbia will hope to get back on track when they travel to Croatia on 22 March, the same day FYROM host Belgium.
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