Saturday, May 18, 2024
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England held by North Macedonia in Euro qualifier

SKOPJE (AFP) – England narrowly avoided an embarrassing defeat against North Macedonia as they wrapped up a place among the top seeds at Euro 2024 with a 1-1 draw in Skopje yesterday.

Gareth Southgate’s side trailed to Enis Bardhi’s first-half strike before Jani Atanasov’s own goal gifted the visitors their second-half equaliser at the Tose Proeski Arena.

Having finished as Group C winners with six victories and two draws, England will be in the first pot of Euro 2024 seeds alongside Germany, Portugal, France, Spain and Belgium. That should increase their chances of landing a favourable group when the draw for next year’s tournament in Germany is made on December 2.

But whoever England are pitted against, Southgate will know they need a significant improvement on this spluttering display to live up to their billing as one of the favourites to win the Euros.

Southgate this week challenged fourth-placed England to leapfrog Argentina, France and Brazil to become FIFA’s number one team in the world rankings. But even beating North Macedonia, 66th in the rank-ings, proved beyond Southgate’s injury-hit side.