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England vs North Macedonia - EURO 2024 Qualifier

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re all well.

On Friday 19th June 2023 I made the 200 mile journey up north to Old Trafford, the home of Manchester united, to watch England face North Macedonia in a EURO 2024 qualifier.

Having already played three of their qualifiers, the Three Lions sat comfortably at the top of group C having won all of their games. I had already been to Old Trafford three times before this match, but as I am normally an away fan we sat in a different place – right at the top of the Stretford End the highest people in the ground. The view was great, and we could see the whole pitch from behind the goal.

North Macedonia is ranked 65th in the FIFA world rankings, and came into this game 4th in group C having won only one of their matches, a 2-1 win over Malta. Though they did manage to beat Germany 2-1 back in 2021.

The main reason I decided to make the trip up north was because Gareth Southgate named three Crystal Palace players in his squad – Marc Guehi, Sam Johnstone and for the first time Eberechi Eze, after a great end to the season and a very proud moment for Palace. The two outfield players made appearances in England’s recent 4-0 win over Malta. I attended with another Palace fan, Tom, to show our support to the boys! Along with these inclusions Southgate also named five recent treble winners, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Kalvin Phillips, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish who all joined camp before this match. Europa Conference League winner, Declan Rice also received a call up. Finally with Jude Bellingham unfortunately pulling out with injuries, Brighton loanee star Levi Colwell was brought in from the U21 squad.

In a dominating performance Bukayo Saka scores his first career hat-trick in a 7-0 victory over North Macedonia taking England a step closer to EURO 2024 qualification.

Just three days on from their 4-0 win over Malta, England were in action again facing North Macedonia in front of a sold out Old Trafford.

The Three Lions started the game as they ended the last - on the front foot. Bukayo Saka was a doubt for today’s game after picking up a knock in the previous game and being replaced by Phil Foden early in the second half. Despite this the England number 7 was back in the starting line-up, and had the first chance of the game within the opening minute, but his close range shot was straight at Stole Dimitrievski between the sticks.

North Macedonia had short spurts of possession, but the England Lions were hungry for the ball and were quick to close down their opponents to ultimately win it back.

It didn’t take long for England to get their first goal with captain Harry Kane finding the net 23 minutes in. The move began with Marcus Rashford picking out his club teammate Luke Shaw who was on the overlap, his ball into the box was missed by the North Macedonia defender and went straight into the path of an unmarked Kane to get his sixth consecutive England goal.

The England wingers were the main source of problems for the North Macedonians all evening running at the defenders with real confidence. Saka doubled the scoreline with a blazing shot into the top of the net set up by some fast paced play with Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold, this was closely followed by Rashford scoring in front of his home crowd 7 minutes later.

Much like the first half Saka was the first to have a chance coming out from the break – although this time he was able to capitalise. Receiving a superb first time ball from Alexander-Arnold who was in England’s defensive half, Saka was able to take the ball down with his chest before sending the ball past the keeper from outside the penalty area with a breathtaking volley.

The 21-year-old Arsenal star boy was on fire! With his name already ringing around the walls of Old Trafford, Saka was on the end of a through ball by Kane and slotted the ball passed the keeper for the third time, for his first career hat-trick!

The goals didn’t stop there, two of the newly introduced Manchester City treble winners were involved in the sixth goal of the night. After some patient play Jack Grealish crossed the ball into the box where it was blocked by North Macedonia’s Nikola Serafimov but only into the path of Kalvin Phillips who scored his first England goal into an empty net.

The final goal of the night came just 9 minutes later when John Stones was pulled down in the box, despite the contact starting outside the box the referee pointed the spot for a penalty. England’s trusty captain stood up and sent the ball comfortably past Dimitrievski for his 20th England penalty and sign off for the summer after a great performance.

It was unfortunate that none of the Palace boy’s got on the pitch, but nevertheless it was a great game and I’m glad I went. Bukayo Saka is a special, special talented player with a bright future ahead proven not only in this game where of course he got his first career hat-trick, but the whole of last season with Arsenal. Trent Alexander-Arnold looked much stronger in his new position in midfield linking up well with the front three, it could be the answer to both England and Liverpool’s problems.

Although there is still some time with no Premier League football, England’s 21’s and Women’s teams both have competitions this summer. England’s Young Lions kick off their UEFA EURO U21 campaign of June 22nd against the Czech Republic at 5pm, with the women’s world cup beginning in late July so be sure to show your support to both. England’s senior men are next in action for friendlies on September 12th away to Scotland, before returning to Wembley to face Australia on October 13th.

The accessibility of the trip including transport, the game and the hotel was good with the only issue being at Euston Station. We had issues there last time I travelled to Manchester with it being one of the only London stations that requires pre-booking to use the ramp and the staff being unhelpful even when we did book. The way home was much smoother though booking is still required. If you’re a wheelchair user travelling from London to Manchester I definitely suggest arriving early to avoid stress and disappointment.

Thank you for reading.

Ellie Xx


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