Gareth Southgate believes England showed an “excellent” mentality as they were held to a 1-1 draw by North Macedonia in Skopje on Monday.
England fell behind in the first half through an Enis Bardhi rebound after his initial penalty was saved by Jordan Pickford, needing a 58th-minute equaliser to get back on level terms before they were unable to find a late winner.
The Three Lions still qualify having finished top of Group C, and Southgate feels his players showed a great mindset on Monday despite the underwhelming result.
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“The really big results were in March, winning in Italy and the result against Ukraine,” Southgate told Channel 4. “It meant coming here tonight was a different test, given we’ve qualified and everything was achieved.”
“The mentality of the players was excellent, the quality with the ball was good on a very difficult pitch and a lot of positive performances.”
A strong performance on his #ThreeLions debut 💪
— England (@England) November 20, 2023
Making his England debut the day before his 19th birthday, Rico Lewis was very unfortunate to be harshly penalised for the first-half penalty, though he recovered to put in a very solid display.
The Manchester City man was proud of his work, saying: “Obviously, overall I’m very happy.
“[It was] unfortunate with the result and the decision that went against me, [but] it’s a lovely birthday present. To do it with these people around me, it couldn’t have been better.”