England manager, Gareth Southgate has praised his players for their “mentality” in the 1-1 draw away to North Macedonia.
Enis Bardhi’s 41st minute rebound goal put North Macedonia ahead at half time but Jani Atanasov’s own-goal saw England eventually snatch a 1-1 draw to finish the year unbeaten in all competitions.
The result also meant that as Qualifying Group C winners, England also achieved a pot one seeding for the UEFA Euro 2024 draw on Saturday 2 December.
“I think the really big results were in March winning in Italy and the result against Ukraine so it meant coming here tonight was a completely different test,” commented Southgate on exactly where England realistically put themselves on the path to eventual qualification.
The trip to North Macedonia consequently was a dead rubber with neither team having anything to play for within the group, yet Southgate was delighted with his team’s performance in Skopje.
Southgate however felt that the end product was England’s weak point as he explained: “Given that we had already qualified and everything we achieved, I thought the mentality of the players tonight was excellent and the quality with the ball was good on a very difficult pitch.
“It was probably just that finish, that final pass which was difficult to find against their defence but I thought lots of positives to take from these performances.”
This international window also saw Cole Palmer and Rico Lewis handed senior debuts with Southgate bemusing that “there are a lot of players to keep track of,” heading into next summer’s Euros with injury withdrawals like James Maddison and Callum Wilson in contention.
Southgate though had high praise for Lewis who was awarded Player of the Match, as he said: “He [Lewis] was excellent, his composure with the ball, the fact that he did respond as he did to the setback which was really, really harsh.
“He is a super footballer and he was excellent, I thought. We are really pleased with him.”