Marko Arnautovic will miss Austria's Euro 2020 clash with the Netherlands on Thursday after being given a one-match ban for an incident during the win over North Macedonia.

Arnautovic had to be restrained by his captain David Alaba as he celebrated scoring in a 3-1 victory in Austria's Group C opener at the National Arena in Bucharest on Sunday.

The 32-year-old, who is of Serbian descent, was accused of yelling a racist insult at North Macedonia players Egzon Bejtulai and Ezgjan Alioski, who both have Albanian roots.

Arnautovic apologised for his conduct but denied using a racial slur.

The Football Federation of Macedonia submitted an official letter to UEFA demanding the most severe punishment possible following what it described as a "nationalist outburst" towards Ezgjan Alioski, who has Albanian roots.

UEFA launched an investigation and decided to ban the 32-year-old for one game, so he will sit out the encounter with the Oranje at Johan Cruijff ArenA for "insulting another player."

Arnautovic responded, stating that he wants positives to come out of his "bad behaviour".

He said in a statement released by the Austrian Football Association (OFB): "I publicly admitted my misconduct at the goal celebration on my own initiative, even before proceedings were initiated, and apologised for it.

"There have been regrettable statements from both sides, but provocations are no justification for my behaviour either. Immediately after the game there was a debate and mutual apology.

"I grew up with people from different countries and cultures and I stand for diversity very clearly. Everyone who knows me knows that. It is very important to me personally to emphasise that. Together with the OFB, I stand for tolerance and integration in all areas of society.

"Precisely because integration is so important to me through my own history, I would like to use this case as an opportunity and provide €25,000 for my integration project, in which I act as a patron, so that my bad behaviour is also a good consequence for more cohesion.

"Above all, I want to be a good role model for children and young people."

Netherlands boss Frank de Boer said of Arnautovic's suspension: "It's a shame for Austria because he's a good player, I know him from his spell with Twente, so yes he's a good player and they will miss him.

"In that way its an advantage for us. He came in as a substitute [versus North Macedonia] and he made a difference right away."

UEFA is to investigate an incident involving Marko Arnautovic as the Austria forward celebrated after scoring against North Macedonia at Euro 2020.

Arnautovic grabbed his team's final goal in the closing minutes of a 3-1 triumph in Bucharest after coming on as a substitute during Sunday's Group C clash.

Media reports said the 32-year-old directed comments at opposing players in the aftermath, with Austria captain David Alaba seemingly attempting to calm his compatriot down.

The Football Federation of Macedonia submitted an official letter to UEFA demanding the most severe punishment possible following what it described as a "nationalist outburst" towards Ezgjan Alioski, who has Albanian roots.

Arnautovic, who is of Serbian descent, issued a statement via social media on Monday to apologise for "some heated words".

Serbia does not recognise the independence of its former province Kosovo, while there is historic tension between Serbia and North Macedonia.

"There were some heated words yesterday in the emotions of the game for which I would like to apologise - especially to my friends from North Macedonia and Albania," Arnautovic posted on Instagram.

"I would like to say one thing very clearly: I am not a racist. I have friends in almost every country and I stand for diversity. Everyone who knows me is aware of that."

UEFA said on Tuesday: "In accordance with the article 31(4) of the UEFA disciplinary regulations, an ethics and disciplinary Inspector has been appointed to conduct an investigation regarding the incident involving the player Marko Arnautovic that occurred during the 2020 European Championship group-stage match between the national teams of Austria and North Macedonia on 13 June 2021."

Austria are next in action on Thursday, taking on the Netherlands - who defeated Ukraine 3-2 in their opening fixture - in Amsterdam.

Marko Arnautovic has apologised for his heated celebration after scoring in Austria's win against North Macedonia but has denied using a racist slur.

The 32-year-old was brought on at half-time in Sunday's Group C clash and rounded off the scoring in his side's 3-1 victory at the National Arena in Bucharest.

Arnautovic, who is of Serbian descent, appeared angry as he celebrated and had to be calmed down by captain David Alaba.

He was accused of yelling an alleged racist insult at North Macedonia players Egzon Bejtulai and Ezgjan Alioski, who both have Albanian roots.

Serbia does not recognise the independence of its former province Kosovo, and there is historic tension between Serbia and North Macedonia.

However, former Stoke City and West Ham man Arnautovic took to social media on Monday to deny allegations that he is racist.

"There were some heated words yesterday in the emotions of the game for which I would like to apologise - especially to my friends from North Macedonia and Albania," he posted on Instagram.

"I would like to say one thing very clearly: I am not a racist. I have friends in almost every country and I stand for diversity. Everyone who knows me is aware of that."

Austria's next Group C outing is against the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Thursday.

The Netherlands edged a 3-2 thriller with Ukraine in the pick of the Euro 2020 matches to date, while England and Austria also got off the mark in their opening group games on Sunday.

Denzel Dumfries was the late hero for the Oranje with his first international goal to sink Ukraine, who had battled back from two goals down in Amsterdam to temporarily level things.

Austria also left it late to see off minnows North Macedonia 3-1 in Bucharest earlier in the day and England beat Croatia 1-0 at Wembley through a well-taken Raheem Sterling strike.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at some of the best facts from across Sunday's entertaining action at Euro 2020.

England 1-0 Croatia: Three Lions make winning start at Wembley

Sterling's first goal at a major international tournament in his 13th appearance was enough for England to overcome Croatia in a repeat of the 2018 World Cup semi-final.

Croatia offered very little in response as England made it 11 straight victories in games in which Sterling has scored – the best-such win rate of any player in the nation's history.

The Three Lions are now unbeaten in 12 games at Wembley in major tournaments (exluding penalty shoot-outs), winning eight and drawing four of those matches.

The victory for Gareth Southgate's side in their Group D opener was their seventh in a row in all competitions – their best such run since March 2015 under Roy Hodgson.

It was also the first time England have won their opening game at a European Championship finals in their 10th participation in the tournament.

That is in contrast to Croatia, who lost their first match in the competition for the first time, having won four and drawn one of the previous five.

The contest was also a special occasion for England substitute Jude Bellingham, who at 17 years and 349 days became the youngest ever player to feature at the Euros.

Austria 3-1 North Macedonia: Substitutes strike late to deny tournament debutants

North Macedonia's first ever game at a major tournament ended with a late defeat to Austria in Bucharest.

Aged 37 years and 321 days, 120-cap Goran Pandev became the second-oldest goalscorer in the competition when cancelling out Stefan Lainer's opener.

That was just Lainer's second goal for Austria, with his only other international strike coming against North Macedonia in qualifying.

Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic were introduced to snatch the three points for Austria – their first ever win at the European Championships in what was their seventh game.

In doing so, Gregoritsch and Arnautovic became the first pair to score from the bench for the same country in the competition since Michy Batshuayi and Yannick Carrasco for Belgium (v Hungary) in 2016.

Arnautovic's goal to make certain of the win was his 27th for Austria at senior level, with three of those coming against North Macedonia – more than he has managed against any other country.

Netherlands 3-2 Ukraine: Oranje leave it late to edge thriller

The Netherlands ended a run of four straight defeats at the European Championship with a dramatic victory against Ukraine in Amsterdam.

All five goals were scored in the second half, making it the highest-scoring fixture in the competition's history after a goalless first half.

The first half may have ended scoreless, but the tempo was set early on as there were nine shots in the opening 10 minutes – a tournament record since Opta started recording such data in 1980.

Georginio Wijnaldum opened the scoring in the 52nd minute with his 15th goal in 26 appearances for Oranje, having scored only eight times in his first 50 games for his national side.

Wout Weghorst added a second soon after, but Andriy Yarmolenko pulled one back with a sublime strike to end a run of 72 shots without a goal for Ukraine at the Euros.

From the visitors' very next attempt, Roman Yaremchuk headed in an equaliser to seemingly steal a point at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

But Dumfries found the back of the net in the 85th minute, making it the latest game-winning goal for the Netherlands at the Euros since current boss Frank de Boer scored an 89th-minute penalty against Czech Republic at Euro 2000.

David Alaba was pleased with the character shown by Austria after they produced a strong second-half display to beat North Macedonia - but promised it was just the start for them at Euro 2020.

Late goals from substitutes Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic secured a 3-1 result against North Macedonia in Bucharest, Austria's first win at a European Championships.

Indeed, they had not triumphed at a major tournament since the 1990 World Cup, a barren run that appeared set to continue when Goran Pandev capitalised on a loose ball to cancel out Stefan Lainer's volleyed opener in the Group C contest.

Yet Austria dominated for long spells after the break and eventually found a way through, Alaba providing an inviting cross for Gregoritsch to put Austria back ahead.

"We achieved our first goal with these three points, we wanted to get this victory, but we have to stay calm and focus on our next match," Alaba told the media.

"We are not happy just with the three points. This was our first goal we wanted to achieve, now we want to continue. Of course we want to impose our game and continue to collect points, that's our target.

"This shows our character and personality, we want to continue on this path."

He added: "At half-time, we said to each other that we had to play faster, that we wanted to control the match.

"In the second half, we had some spells where we really put the foot down, where we lost the ball and directly tried to get it back. That is what we talked about at half-time, that we wanted the three points.

"You could see how hungry and willing we were. We wanted to show our character, our team spirit on the pitch – I think we managed to do that."

Alaba surprisingly lined up at the heart of a back three, though popped up on the left flank to provide the assist for Gregoritsch's crucial goal.

Austria's captain - who has ended his long association with Bayern Munich by joining Real Madrid on a free transfer - completed 93 of his 99 attempted passes in the game, a new record for his country in a European Championship fixture.

Head coach Franco Foda was delighted with Alaba's impact on proceedings, though made clear the system could change when they go up against the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Thursday.

"He played in this position for Bayern a lot, we just switched to a back three. At Bayern he also played that way, so that's no problem for him," Foda said.

"In the second half, he helped us and supported us in attack, especially on the left. This was his duty and I'm very happy with his 90 minutes.

"He organised our defensive work well, talked a lot with his team-mates and this is important. In the second half, he helped us in terms of attacking."

Arnautovic did not start having gone into the tournament recovering from an injury, though he made an impact off the bench by scoring Austria's third goal in the 89th minute.

On his compatriot, Alaba said: "We players always want to play, but we can see what character he has. He came on and gave 100 per cent straight away. He's a very important player for us, both on and off the pitch. We know what he means to us."

Austria finally registered a first European Championship win at the seventh attempt as they ruined North Macedonia's first outing at a major tournament with a 3-1 triumph in Bucharest.

Substitutes Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic both scored in the final 12 minutes to make sure Franco Foda's side claimed all three points from the Group C tussle.

After fellow debutants Finland recorded a 1-0 triumph over Denmark on Saturday, North Macedonia had appeared on course to mark their maiden appearance with a point against opponents who beat them twice in qualifying.

Having struck in the second leg to see off Georgia in the play-offs and secure a spot at Euro 2020, Goran Pandev became the second oldest scorer in the competition's history when he capitalised on an unexpected opportunity to tap in an equaliser.

Goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann failed to hold on when sliding out to grab the ball ahead of Aleksandar Trajkovski, a three-way collision also involving David Alaba allowing the ever-alert Pandev to convert into an unguarded net with his team's first attempt.

Austria had opened the scoring with an eye-catching goal, Marcel Sabitzer's raking pass finding the advancing Stefan Lainer, who showed impressive attacking instincts for a defender with a side-footed volley from a tight angle that flashed beyond Stole Dimitrievski.

There was not so much to admire about the build-up play and finish for North Macedonia's equaliser, not that they cared too much.

Arnautovic was summoned from the bench early in the second half to try and inspire Austria, though it was fellow replacement Gregoritsch who scored the game's crucial third goal, the Augsburg forward making a near-post run to apply the finishing touch to Alaba's inviting cross from the left flank. 
 
Any hope of a tiring North Macedonia rallying for a second time disappeared when Arnautovic went clean through in the 89th minute, calmly rounding Dimitrievski to wrap up the victory. 

What's next?

Both teams are back in action on Thursday. North Macedonia will be remaining in Bucharest for their second fixture, against Ukraine. Austria, meanwhile, move on to Amsterdam to take on the Netherlands.

Austria boss Franco Foda has a selection dilemma in Bucharest as he bids to deliver the country's first ever win at the European Championship.

No team have played more games at the Euros without earning at least one win than Austria, who have fallen short in all six of their past finals fixtures.

The Group C clash with North Macedonia on Sunday is one in which many expect Austria to prevail, but Foda must decide whether Marko Arnautovic, the team's star forward, starts the match.

Arnautovic has indicated he feels ready for a pivotal role after recovering from a thigh injury, but there is no certainty the 32-year-old will play from the start.

The former West Ham man, now with Shanghai Port, played half an hour for Austria in a friendly against Slovakia last Sunday but Foda may prefer a match-fit Sasa Kalajdzic to lead his attack.

Foda said in a pre-game news conference: "Ultimately, I have to make the decision about whether Marko is ready for 90 minutes or not."

A fit and firing Arnautovic's value to his country is obvious, having been directly involved in seven goals in his eight appearances during the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign (six goals, one assist).

Foda also kept North Macedonia guessing about where David Alaba will feature, the erstwhile Bayern Munich star and new Real Madrid recruit being a top performer both in defence and midfield.

"We have decided where he will play," Foda said, but gave no detail about that decision.

The Austria coach added: "We can make history, and we want to. We absolutely want to win and start the European Championship with a positive result. I have a good feeling."

North Macedonia are making their big-tournament debut as an independent nation and proud captain Goran Pandev said: "Believe that we are ready and we will do our best to make the public and the Macedonian people happy again."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Austria - Marcel Sabitzer

Sabitzer is coming off a strong season in the German Bundesliga with RB Leipzig and has been linked with clubs including Roma and Arsenal. Austria have plenty of decent pedigree in their squad, but the man who scored eight goals and had three assists on league duty for his club side last term, creating 30 chances in all, is one of a handful with real star quality.

 

North Macedonia - Goran Pandev

At the age of 37, Pandev leads his country on the big stage, and what a moment it will be for him. A star forward in Serie A for over 15 years, notably with Lazio, Inter, Napoli and Genoa, Pandev may be past his prime but he will hope to lead by example at this tournament.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- These teams have only played each other twice before – both times in qualifying for this tournament – with Austria winning those matches 4-1 and 2-1.

- Including the play-off rounds, North Macedonia won each of their final three games in Euro 2020 qualifying – as many as they had won in their previous nine games of the qualifying campaign beforehand (D2 L4).

- Austria have yet to reach the knockout stages or even win a single game at the European Championships (D2 L4).

- Austria have won only one of their last 15 games at major tournaments (D5 L9 – World Cups and Euros), a 2-1 victory against United States in the group phase of the 1990 World Cup. They last reached the knockout stages of a major tournament at the 1954 World Cup, finishing third.

- Austria have scored only two goals in their six games at the European Championship finals; one of them was a penalty (Ivica Vastic vs Poland, Euro 2008). They have never been ahead at any point in those six games.

- North Macedonia's 1.25 goals scored per game during Euro 2020 qualifiers (15 in 12 games) was the joint-lowest average of any team to have qualified for the finals, alongside Wales.

Trent Alexander-Arnold's participation in Euro 2020 appears to be in huge doubt after the England full-back sustained an apparent muscular injury against Austria.

England won 1-0 on Wednesday thanks to Bukayo Saka's first international goal, but a late injury for Alexander-Arnold may have spoiled the night.

Alexander-Arnold was left out of a previous England squad in March, but has made the 26-man cut for Euro 2020, with Gareth Southgate taking four right-backs.

Two of those right-backs – Kyle Walker and Reece James – were unavailable in Middlesbrough following their Champions League final exploits, so the Liverpool star got the nod.

However, in the closing stages, Alexander-Arnold pulled up after making a clearance with his left foot, and appeared to be clutching his thigh as he limped off the pitch, with England's medical staff then having to help him walk around the sidelines to the tunnel.

With England kicking-off their campaign against Croatia on June 13, Alexander-Arnold's prospects do not look good, but Southgate, who also has concerns over the fitness of Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire, will wait for a full diagnosis before making a decision on whether to replace the 22-year-old.

"We're going to have a look. It's obviously not good to see him come off in the way he did. We'll just have to assess him over the next 24 hours," he told ITV Sport.

"I think thigh, but the medical team are still assessing it really. We just have to see, it's not a good sign to see him have to walk off as he did, but we'll know more in the next 24, 48 hours.

"Let's see how Trent is, and we'll go from there. We don't know the full extent, so the last thing you want is to have to see him come off in the way he did."

Another player to provide something of a scare to England fans might have been Jack Grealish. 

The Aston Villa talisman missed a large chunk of the Premier League run-in due to an injury, but played over an hour before being replaced by debutant Ben White.

Grealish was seen with an ice pack on his right shin as he watched on from the stands, but the 25-year-old insisted he is fit.

"I've had an injury recently so to get 70 minutes under my belt, I'm glad," he explained to ITV Sport.

"It's not shin splints, actually, it's different to that, it's like a bit of stress on my shin, a different type of injury.

"I'm not concerned, I'm still aware of it, need to keep on top of it, do whatever I can to heal it after playing in these games, so that's why the ice was on."

Trent Alexander-Arnold suffered a late injury as England stepped up Euro 2020 preparations with a 1-0 win over Austria that was secured by Bukayo Saka's first senior international goal.

Manager Gareth Southgate was shorn of the Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United players likely to be key at the upcoming tournament, and he fielded a relatively inexperienced team for Wednesday's friendly in Middlesbrough.

It was one of the youngsters to have made the final 26-man squad who proved decisive, Arsenal winger Saka tucking into an empty net early in the second half to mark his fifth Three Lions appearance with a maiden goal.

Yet the biggest moment came late on, when Alexander-Arnold – whose inclusion in the squad has been a hot topic – suffered an apparent muscular injury in inconspicuous circumstances, which will surely cast doubt over his availability for the tournament.

The two players in Reggae Boyz delegation who tested positive for the Covid-19 virus have now tested negative. However, two other players including one who is based in England have tested positive and have been isolated 48 hours before they face off against the United States in an international friendly.

According to a statement from the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), another test was done today Tuesday, March 23 “as per UEFA match day minus two protocol”.

 Those results will be available tomorrow.

“The protocols are being strictly followed in the hotel and every individual is constantly reminded of his responsibility by the team medical personnel and team manager Roy Simpson,” the JFF said.

“The team now has a physiotherapist in the form of Nico Reishofer, an Austrian. The first training session in Austria was scheduled for 6 pm today.

 

Two members of the Reggae Boyz delegation in Austria for their international friendly against the United States on Thursday have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, the Jamaica Football Federation announced today.

The members of the delegation were tested when they arrived in Austria earlier today.

The players have been isolation in their hotel rooms in keeping with UEFA protocols while they await another test before any activity can be initiated.  All the players subsequently took a PCR Covid-19 test with the results due 12 hours later.

Ten England-based players including Adrian Mariappa and Michael Hector, are among those who are now in Austria.

 

 Former Wimbledon FC defender, Andy Clement, will serve as a physical trainer for the Jamaica national team ahead of its friendly international against the United States in Austria next Thursday.

Clement, who currently plies his trade with Mount Pleasant football club, will be forced to stand in after both the national team's regular trainers Lamar Morgan and Jason Henry did not make the tour.  Henry was not able to travel with the team after reportedly not managing to secure a contract in time.

Clement was suited for the job as being an Englishman he does not need a Schengen visa to enter Europe.  The team was originally expected to depart the island for the US this weekend, after completing a four-day training camp at the Horace Burrell Academy.

However, the JFF was forced to quickly alter plans after it was discovered that applications for travel to Austria had to be done in person at the current time.  The delegation, as a result, hastily departed the island on Tuesday in order to meet a Wednesday morning appointment for Schengen visas at the Austrian Embassy, in the United States.  The group was as a result without both a physical trainer and physiotherapist, important members of the support staff.

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