Euro 2020: Croatia, North Macedonia held in build-up friendlies

Croatia was held to a 1-1 home draw by Armenia and North Macedonia conceded a stoppage-time equaliser as it drew 1-1 with Slovenia on Tuesday.

Armenian players celebrate after scoring a goal during a friendly football match between Croatia and Armenia at Velika Gorica.   -  AFP

Croatia made a stuttering start to its Euro 2020 build-up as it was held to a 1-1 home draw by Armenia and North Macedonia conceded a stoppage-time equaliser as it drew 1-1 with Slovenia on Tuesday.

Slovakia, which also qualified for the June 11-July 11 tournament, fought out a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria after falling behind.

The Croatians, who are in European championship Group D with England, Scotland and the Czech Republic, missed several chances in Velika Gorica and were punished in the closing stages as Armenia struck out of the blue.

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Ivan Perisic fired Croatia into a 23rd-minute lead when he rose above his markers to head home a Luka Modric corner and then missed an empty net in the 42nd with Armenia keeper David Yurchenko stranded.

Yurchenko denied Perisic and Mario Pasalic hit the post with the rebound on the stroke of halftime and Croatia paid the price in the 72nd minute when Armenia's Colombian-born substitute Wbeymar levelled with a spectacular effort.

The 29-year-old midfielder gave home goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic no chance with a thunderbolt from 25 metres into the top right corner after he was teed up by Zhirayr Shagoyan.

Armenia almost turned the match on its head as Livakovic denied Kamo Hovhannisyan with a fingertip save before Yurchenko palmed away Andrej Kramaric's effort in the dying minutes.

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North Macedonia denied

North Macedonia, which is making its debut on the big stage and is in Group C alongside the Netherlands, Austria and Ukraine, was denied a win against fellow former Yugoslavs Slovenia after dominating the contest.

The home side appeared set to come out on top after Eljif Elmas beat Slovenia keeper Jan Oblak with a deflected 55th-minute volley from Ezgjan Alioski's fine cross but it was undone by almost the last kick of the game.

Domen Crnigoj equalised in the seventh minute of added time as he drilled his shot into the roof of the net from 10 metres after Benjamin Sesko nodded a long ball into his stride.

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Atanas Iliev gave visiting Bulgaria a ninth-minute lead before Laszlo Benes hit back in the 27th for the Slovakians, who are in Euro 2020 Group E with Spain, Sweden and Poland.

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