England were held to a 1-1 draw with North Macedonia on a night where the referee and his VAR team stole the show. Gareth Southgate’s side were on the receiving end of several poor decisions, and the whistle-happy officiating prevented the Three Lions from gaining any true momentum.
North Macedonia took the lead on Tuesday night through captain Enish Bardhi in the 41st minute after they were controversially awarded a penalty for a foul by Rico Lewis on Bojan Miovski. The Manchester City star clipped the striker with his flailing hand when heading the ball clear, with VAR intervening to call for the incident to be reviewed. England then equalised in the 51st minute after Jani Atanasov deflected a corner into his own net whilst under pressure from Harry Kane.
Here are the Express Sport player ratings:
Jordan Pickford – 7
Made a great save to initially keep out Bardhi’s penalty and had very little chance with the rebound. Played several great long balls forward but he spent extended spells as a spectator.
Kyle Walker – 6
Led by example as skipper. The fullback was a presence at both ends of the pitch but did not exceed expectations.
Harry Maguire – 4
Incredibly fortunate not to give away a penalty in the first half for a clumsy shoulder barge after carelessly giving the ball away under no pressure. The Manchester United defender has enjoyed better nights for England.
Marc Guehi – 7
Another solid display by the Crystal Palace defender, dealing with the physical North Macedonian forwards well and fuelling several attacks from deep.
Rico Lewis – 7
A solid display by the debutant, overcoming the VAR howler to showcase his entire skillset at left-back. The teenager frequently drifted into midfield and linked up with teammates well, cutting out several dangerous North Macedonia attacks as well.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5
North Macedonia did not let the Liverpool star have a sniff on Tuesday night. The harsh tackling from his opponents got under the skin of the fullback and he struggled to make an impact, with a cheap booking making his life difficult in midfield. Alexander-Arnold is usually an ever-reliable creative outlet, but he produced very little on Tuesday night.
Declan Rice – 7.5
The Arsenal midfielder kept things ticking for England, and he is a key reason why the likes of Foden and Saka shone. The 24-year-old played a key role in ensuring that North Macedonia weren’t able to counter-attack when his teammates pushed on, whilst also driving the ball forward and almost opening the scoring in the first half – with his strike clipping the post.
Phil Foden – 9
The City academy star has now given Southgate a team selection headache as he was nothing short of excellent as a No 10. The playmaker provided the spark required in midfield, dropping deep to get on the ball when required and also racing in behind to stretch the pitch. A performance to take note of.