Lacklustre England held in North Macedonia
England toiled to a 1-1 draw in North Macedonia as their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign came to a lacklustre close.
Gareth Southgate's side secured qualification to next summer’s finals in Germany last month and a forgettable draw in Skopje was at least enough to confirm the Group C winners among the top seeds for December’s draw.
Rico Lewis made his debut at the Tose Proeski Arena but conceded a controversial first-half penalty, which Jordan Pickford saved before Enis Bardhi turned home the rebound.
Captain Harry Kane came off the bench and played a part in the leveller as Jani Atanasov scored an own -goal but England failed to find a winner.
England showed six changes from the team that limped to a 2-0 win over Malta on Friday night as Kyle Walker captained his country for the first time – but it was another disjointed display from a team Southgate is aiming to lead to the top of the world rankings.
Declan Rice was among those to come back into the starting line-up but, having called on England to conclude their unbeaten 2023 with a "bang" it instead ended with a whimper.
England were as toothless in the first half as they had been in the drab victory over Malta, although Rice did come close to opening the scoring with a low strike that cannoned off the base of the post.
A tame header from Ollie Watkins followed before the hosts started to get a foothold, mainly due to England’s own poor defending.
Midway through the half and Harry Maguire gifted possession to Bojan Miovski, who slipped in Eljif Elmas.
Manchester United defender Maguire then seemed to barge Elmas off the ball inside the box but no penalty was forthcoming despite the protestations of the home side.
However, Macedonia would be awarded a penalty 10 minutes before