BUCHAREST: Substitutes Marko Arnautovic and Michael Gregoritsch earned Austria their first ever victory at a European Championship as Franco Foda’s side edged past tournament debutants North Macedonia in their Group C opener.
Gregoritsch met captain David Alaba’s sublime cross with 12 minutes remaining to end North Macedonia’s resistance, before Arnautovic put the result beyond doubt after rounding goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.
Veteran Macedonian striker Goran Pandev looked to have earned a memorable point for Euro 2020’s lowest-ranked side on his 120th appearance, 20 years on from his international debut.
The 37-year-old Genoa forward, part of Jose Mourinho’s treble-winning Inter Milan side of 2009-10, pounced on a defensive mix-up and slotted in to an open goal after 28 minutes to cancel out out Stefan Lainer’s strike.
Borussia Monchengladbach right-back Lainer had produced a fine finish to give an uninspiring Austria the lead 10 minutes earlier, leaping to volley in Marcel Sabitzer’s excellent pass.
Austrian captain Alaba said: “We’re very happy because we wanted to win this first game, we wanted to start well in this tournament.
“In 2016 we didn’t start well. We have a really good squad with a lot of potential. You could see it today with two guys who came off the bench and scored so that was very important for us.”