England held to scrappy draw in North Macedonia

AFP

England suffered a frustrating conclusion to their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign as they were held to a scrappy 1-1 draw by North Macedonia in Group C on Monday.

With qualification long since secured and just a draw needed to seal a top seeding for next year's finals, England trailed to Enis Bardhi's 41st-minute follow-up after his penalty was saved.

Gareth Southgate's group winners hogged possession but lacked fluency and invention against dogged hosts and needed an own goal by Jani Atanasov to get them level on the hour.

Jack Grealish had earlier seen a goal ruled out for offside while teenager Rico Lewis had a debut he will not forget after being harshly penalised for North Macedonia's penalty.

England ended the calendar year unbeaten and topped their group with 20 points, but Monday was just as laboured as the 2-0 victory over Malta at Wembley on Friday.

"The really big results were in March, winning in Italy and the result against Ukraine (2-0 home win)," Southgate, whose side thrashed North Macedonia 7-0 at Old Trafford, said.

"It meant coming here tonight was a different test, given we've qualified and everything was achieved."

England would have hoped to have finished with a flourish but they got bogged down with slow passing and the biggest positive was that they will be in the pot of top seeds for the Euro 2024 draw.

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