Gundogan: 'This shouldn't happen' - Germany beaten by North Macedonia to end World Cup qualifying run

The 2014 World Cup champions were beaten 2-1 by North Macedonia

North Macedonia's Eljif Elmas, left, scores the decisive second goal for his side against Germany's keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen during the World Cup 2022 group J qualifying soccer match between Germany and North Macedonia in Duisburg, Germany, Wednesday, March 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Germany lost a World Cup qualifying game for the first time in 20 years Wednesday as the 2014 champion was beaten 2-1 by North Macedonia.

Germany levelled after Goran Pandev’s opening goal in first-half stoppage time but had no answer to Eljif Elmas’ 85th-minute winner for North Macedonia, which moved above Germany into second place in Group J.

Armenia is the surprise leader as the only team to win all three games so far, after coming from behind to beat Romania 3-2.

“The fact is that that this obviously shouldn’t happen,” Germany midfielder Ilkay Gündoğan told broadcaster RTL.

Pandev opened the scoring when Germany’s defence completely lost track of the veteran Genoa forward. However, Gündoğan equalised from the penalty spot in the 63rd after Leroy Sane was brought down by Ezgjan Alioski.

North Macedonia could have had a penalty for apparent handball by Emre Can at a corner, but it wasn’t spotted by the referee. There is no video review system for qualifiers.

Soon after, Timo Werner missed Germany’s best chance to go ahead, scuffing a shot badly wide when one-on-one with the goalkeeper off Gündoğan’s pass on the break.

As Germany pushed for another goal, it was North Macedonia which made the breakthrough. Arijan Ademi squared the ball through Antonio Rüdiger’s legs as Pandev drew away the German defenders, leaving space for Elmas to score past Marc-André ter Stegen.

“I feel like they were in front of our goal twice and scored twice,” Gündoğan said. “Twice there’s a man standing there completely free and that shouldn’t happen.”

Germany had gone 35 games unbeaten in World Cup qualifying since a 5-1 loss to England in Munich in 2001, and had won its last 18 in a row as it pursues a place at the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

North Macedonia has never played at a World Cup but will make its tournament debut at the European Championship this year after Pandev scored the winning goal in a playoff against Georgia in November.

It was the last qualifying game in the 15-year reign of Germany coach Joachim Löw, who is stepping down after the European Championship in June and July.