Three England players poor in North Macedonia draw as Three Lions stung by VAR

In pictures: North Macedonia v England

England were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw with North Macedonia on a night where the referee and his VAR team truly stole the show. Gareth Southgate’s side were on the receiving end of several poor decisions, one of which led to the opening goal, and the whistle-happy officiating prevented the Three Lions from gaining any true momentum in what was another night to forget for the squad.

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. Express Sport rates and slates the Three Lions players…

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.

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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

The Arsenal midfielder kept things ticking for England and he is a key reason why the likes of Phil Foden and Bukayo 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.

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Bukayo Saka – 8

Although being forced to endure spells without the ball, Saka produced several moments of magic which unlocked the North Macedonia defence – notably for Grealish’s disallowed goal. His pace and trickery down the right continues to prove an incredibly valuable asset for Southgate.

Ollie Watkins – 5

A difficult night for the Aston Villa star. The forward made several good runs in behind but failed to control any of the long balls fired in his direction, having just 11 touches before being replaced by Kane.

Jack Grealish – 7

The playmaker did well up against the physical North Macedonian defence that were intent on fouling him at every opportunity. The City winger was intent on getting to the by-line and was an ever-present threat down the left.


Harry Kane – 7

The Bayern Munich star provided the Three Lions with the focal point that they so desperately needed, with his presence forcing the own goal.

Kalvin Phillips – N/A

Only came on late.

Cole Palmer – N/A

Only came on late.

Marcus Rashford – N/A

Only came on late.

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