Southgate praises 'excellent' England mentality despite disappointing draw
England boss Gareth Southgate praised the mentality of his players after seeing them fight back to secure a 1-1 draw with North Macedonia.
The Three Lions were stunned when referee Filip Glova awarded the hosts a penalty after a VAR check saw debutant Rico Lewis' hand catch the face of Bojan Miovski.
Jordan Pickford did well to save Enis Bardhi's initial effort from the spot but a kind rebound saw the midfielder give North Macedonia the lead heading into half-time.
After the break, Southgate introduced Harry Kane and was instantly rewarded when the captain's header came off Jani Atanasov for an own goal to bring England level.
However, the Three Lions were unable to build on the equaliser and had to settle for a draw to bring their qualifying campaign to a tame end.
Southgate told Channel 4: "The really big results were in March, winning in Italy and the result against Ukraine.
"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."
England finished top of Group C, meaning they will enter pot one of the Euro 2024 group stage draw on December 2 alongside Germany, Portugal, France, Spain and Belgium.
Southgate was especially pleased with the performance of Manchester City youngster Lewis in Skopje, despite a tough penalty decision.
The England boss added: "He [Lewis] was excellent, his composure with the ball, the fact that he did respond to that set-back [the penalty], which was really, really harsh.
"He is a super footballer, he was excellent I thought and we're really pleased with him."