Gareth Southgate insists England's 'performance was good'

Gareth Southgate insists England’s ‘performance was good’ and ‘mentality was excellent’, despite Three Lions struggling to 1-1 draw against minnows North Macedonia in final Euro 2024 qualifier

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England manager Gareth Southgate has praised his side’s mentality despite the Three Lions ending their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a 1-1 draw against North Macedonia.

With England already qualified for the summer’s tournament as group winners, the match provided opportunity for some fringe players to stake their claims for potential spots in the squad.

Rico Lewis made his senior England debut, while Harry Kane was rested with Ollie Watkins starting up front and Trent Alexander-Arnold again in midfield.

Kane was introduced in the second half and his presence made a difference immediately, chasing a Phil Foden corner to force Jani Atanasov into an own goal as England came from behind after home captain Enis Bardhi scored a rebound having seen his penalty saved by Jordan Pickford.

And despite the second poor performance in a matter of days following a 2-0 win over Malta at Wembley on Friday, Southgate insisted his side played well and did well to keep their focus having already qualified.

Gareth Southgate insisted his England side’s ‘performance was good’ in their 1-1 draw with North Macedonia

England had to come from behind to earn a draw in their final match of Euro 2020 qualifying

Southgate praised his side’s mentality in the game having already qualified for the tournament

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‘I thought the performance was good, mentality was excellent,’ Southgate said following his side’s final game of 2023. ‘I thought we played well, we totally controlled the game.

‘It was difficult with the way that they defended and the pitch not easy to get the perfect final pass.

‘But I thought there were some excellent performances within the game.’

Rico Lewis was awarded the Player of the Match award on his international debut having being called up to the senior squad from the U21 side following a string of injuries.

On the day before his 19th birthday, the Manchester City man gave away a penalty but impressed in his claim to stake a place in the squad for next summer’s Euros in Germany.

18-year-old Rico Lewis won Player of the Match on his England debut despite giving away a first half penalty

Southgate said Lewis was ‘excellent throughout the whole game’ and ‘should be really proud’

‘His performance and then his reaction to what I know will have been a disappointment for him, but we’re not looking at him for being at fault in any way,’ Southgate said of the teenager after the game.

‘His composure with the ball was outstanding and he should be really proud because we are very, very pleased with what he did.’

‘We thought Rico throughout the whole game was excellent,’ the England manager added. ‘Great composure, great resilience.

‘We didn’t feel he had anything to come back from but I know sometimes as a player you might feel that. But we thought there was no crime, so we were pleased with everything he did.’


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