In a hard-fought European Championship qualifying campaign, England manager Gareth Southgate expressed his satisfaction with the unbeaten run that secured his team’s place in pot one for Euro 2024, despite a somewhat lackluster performance in a draw against North Macedonia.
Southgate, reflecting on the campaign, highlighted the positive aspect of the last two matches, stating, “I think in both matches we’ve been able to look at different players as well as trying to win. Normally you’re waiting until March to do that. We’ve learned quite a bit from those two games which is an advantage for us.”
The Three Lions had already qualified for Euro 2024 and needed only a point to secure a top seeding. The draw against North Macedonia in Skopje may not have been the ideal outcome, but it accomplished the primary objective.
The match was not without controversy, as the hosts were awarded a contentious penalty at the end of the first half. England debutant Rico Lewis was penalised for a handball, leading to a penalty that North Macedonia captain Enis Bardhi converted after an initial save by England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
England responded in the 59th minute, as Phil Foden’s corner found the back of the net after a deflection off Macedonian defender Jani Atanasov, who was under pressure from Harry Kane.
Despite the mixed performance, the point earned in North Macedonia secured England’s place among the top five group winners, ensuring they will be in pot one for the Euro 2024 draw in Germany.
As Southgate and his team look ahead to the upcoming championship, the lessons learned from these qualifying matches, where different players were tested, could prove invaluable in shaping England’s strategy and lineup for the tournament next summer. The draw for Euro 2024 promises an exciting path for the Three Lions as they aim to make a mark on the European stage.