England 1-1 North Macedonia: Southgate’s team battles back after controversial penalty

England completed their Euro 2024 Group C qualification campaign undefeated, settling for a 1-1 draw against North Macedonia. Despite securing their place in the finals in Germany with two games remaining, the Three Lions were unable to finish the year and the group stage with a win. The team delivered a lackluster performance for a significant portion of the game in Skopje.

Manager Gareth Southgate had urged the players to show strength and determination following a disappointing display against Malta on Friday. Nevertheless, England faced difficulties in finding their momentum during the first half and conceded a goal under contentious circumstances shortly before halftime. Harry Maguire was fortunate enough to escape a penalty call, but new player Rico Lewis inadvertently made contact with Bojan Miovski’s face, leading to a penalty for the home team after a VAR assessment. Jordan Pickford managed to save Enis Bardhi’s penalty, but Bardhi was able to convert the rebound.

In the second half, England accelerated their performance and believed they had gone ahead when Jack Grealish scored. However, VAR ruled the goal out for being offside. Eventually, the away team leveled the score when Jani Atanasov unintentionally redirected a corner from the right flank into his own net. In spite of their endeavors, England failed to score a decisive goal on a night that was generally exasperating.

As a consequence of this outcome, England concluded the group stage six points ahead of Italy, who finished in second place, as Italy managed to secure the point they required to qualify against Ukraine. Looking forward, England will now prioritize friendly matches against Brazil and Belgium in March as they lay the groundwork for the Euro tournament next summer.

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