Germany’s first World Cup qualifying loss in 20 years added another blemish to the final months of coach Joachim Low’s 15-year reign in charge of the team.
Germany’s 35-match unbeaten run in World Cup qualifying — a streak dating back to 2001 — ended with a stunning 2-1 home loss to North Macedonia on Wednesday that left the team sitting third in its group after three games.
Europe’s other major powers ended the first batch of qualifying games on a successful note, with England, Italy, Spain and France all picking up wins before they switch their focus to the Euros.
Spain’s 3-1 victory at home to Kosovo attracted attention because of the host country’s non-recognition of the visitors, with the Spanish national broadcaster disregarding normal protocol by not mentioning Kosovo as a country and using lowercase letters for “kos” in its graphics.
John Stones made amends for an embarrassing defensive blunder by setting up a late winner for fellow centre back Harry Maguire as England beat Poland 2-1 to stay perfect in Group I.
Italy’s unbeaten run extended to 25 games with a 2-0 win in Lithuania as Roberto Mancini’s halftime changes had an immediate impact.
Italy moved three points ahead of Switzerland atop Group C.
France continued its recovery from an opening-round draw to Ukraine, beating Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 to follow up a 2-0 win over Kazakhstan on Sunday.
France is four points clear in Group D.
The results: Group B: Greece 1 (Kakabadze 76-og) drew with Georgia 1 (Kvaratskhelia 78); Spain 3 (Olmo 34, Torres 36, Moreno 75) bt Kosovo 1 (Halimi 70).
Group C: Lithuania 0 lost to Italy 2 (Sensi 48, Immobile 90+4-pen); Northern Ireland 0 drew with Bulgaria 0.
Group D: Bosnia and Herzegovina 0 lost to France 1 (Griezmann 60); Ukraine 1 (Yaremchuk 20) drew with Kazakhstan 1 (Muzhikov 59).
Group F: Moldova 1 (Carp 29) lost to Israel 4 (Zehavi 45+2, Solomon 57, Dabbur 64, Natcho 66); Scotland 4 (McGinn 7, 53, Adams 60, Fraser 70) bt Faroe Islands 0; Austria 0 lost to Denmark 4 (Skov Olsen 58, 74, Maehle 63, Hojbjerg 67).
Group I: San Marino 0 lost to Albania 2 (Manaj 63, Uzuni 85); Andorra 1 (Pujol 90+3-pen) lost to Hungary 4 (Fiola 45+2, Gazdag 51, Laszlo 58, Nego 90); England 2 (Kane 19-pen, Maguire 85) bt Poland 1 (Moder 58).
Group J: Germany 1 (Gundogan 63-pen) lost to North Macedonia 2 (Pandev 45+2, Elmas 85); Armenia 3 (Spertsyan 56, Haroyan 87, Barseghyan 89-pen) bt Romania 2 (Cicaldau 62, 72); Liechtenstein 1 (Frick 79) lost to Iceland 4 (Saevarsson 12, Bjarnason 45+1, Palsson 77, Sigurjonsson 90+4-pen).
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