England unimpressive but unchallenged in qualification

Brian Jeeves

North Macedonia v England – UEFA Euro 2024 Group C Qualifier – National Arena Todor Proeski – Report

North Macedonia 1-1 England

England concluded their UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying campaign unbeaten. However, it was another questionable performance from Gareth Southgate’s men, who recovered from falling behind in controversial circumstances against North Macedonia in Skopje.

Despite finishing with six victories and two draws from their eight Group C matches, England again looked leggy and devoid of ideas against a side ranked sixty-sixth in the FIFA Rankings.

Off the back of a lacklustre performance against Malta at Wembley, England started brightly enough against a North Macedonian side playing purely for pride. However, they fell behind bizarrely when Rico Lewis was harshly deemed to have Bojan Miovski with a flailing arm. VAR incredibly advised referee Filip Glova to look at the monitor and award a penalty.

England stopper, Jordan Pickford, saved Enis Bardhi’s spot-kick, but the North Macedonian man followed up to profit from teh rebound. It was harsh on the visitors who had looked in control for much of the opening period.

Jack Grealish thought he’d levelled the score two minutes after the restart. However, again VAR intervened, deeming the Manchester City man off-side after Bukayo Saka had fashioned an opening.

England huffed and puffed but finally restored parity just before the hour when Phil Foden’s flag-kick was knocked on by substitute Harry Kane and subsequently deflected in by Jani Atanasov.

The result ensured England’s place in pot one for the draw ahead of next summer’s Finals in Germany as one of the top five group winners that had accumulated twenty points from their qualifying matches.

North Macedonia: Dimitrievski, Manev, Serafimov, Musliu, Dimoski (Ashkovski 86′), Alimi (Kostadinov 75′), Atanasov (Elezi 90+1′), Alioski, Bardhi, Miovski (Ristovski 75′), Elmas

Subs not used: Iljazovski, Ademi, Churlinov, Aleksovski, Mitrovski, Daci, Shishkovski, Todoroski

England: Pickford, Walker, Maguire, Guéhi, Lewis, Alexander-Arnold (Phillips 84′), Rice, Saka (Palmer 84′), Foden, Grealish (Rashford 84′)

Watkins (Kane 58′)

Subs not used: Tomori, Johnstone, Henderson, Gallagher, Konsa, Ramsdale

Referee: Filip Glova (Slovakia)

Assistants: Daniel Polacek and Peter Bednar (Slovakia)

Fourth Official: Boris Marhefka (Slovakia)

Video Assistant Referee: Michal Ocenáš (Slovakia)

Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Pawel Pskit (Poland)


Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk