Gareth Southgate hails Rico Lewis after sturdy England debut in North Macedonia

Gareth Southgate praised Rico Lewis after the teenage debutant bounced again from a contentious penalty name made in opposition to him throughout a formidable first England look away to North Macedonia.

An unbeaten yr that began with victory in Italy ended with a 1-1 draw away in chilly Skopje because the Euro 2020 runners-up rubberstamped their place among the many prime seeds for subsequent yr’s finals.

Monday’s journey to Skopje represented England’s ultimate match on international soil earlier than Euro 2024 will get underneath approach in June, and Southgate’s facet needed to dig deep after falling behind to a staff they beat 7-0 in June.

Lewis was unfortunate to see a spot-kick awarded in opposition to him shortly after Harry Maguire survived making a careless problem within the field, with Enis Bardhi scoring after Jordan Pickford saved his preliminary spot-kick.

England returned from the break strongly and Southgate shortly turned to Harry Kane, who instantly compelled Jani Atanasov into an personal aim that will seal the draw.

“I thought the performance was good, mentality was excellent,” England boss Southgate stated after bringing the curtain down on 2023. “I thought we played well, we totally controlled the game.

“It was difficult with the way that they defended and the pitch not easy to get the perfect final pass.

“But I thought there were some excellent performances within the game.

“I didn’t think that was a penalty. The one before might have been, so maybe that evened itself out.

“I’ve zero to say about (the VAR) which probably tells you everything.”

Thankfully Southgate was extra forthcoming when it got here to the efficiency of versatile expertise Lewis.

Making his England debut a day shy of his nineteenth birthday, the left-back was in a much more superior place in possession and reacted properly to the penalty resolution in opposition to him.

Lewis caught Bojan Miovski with an arm when rising to win a header and referee Filip Glova pointed to the spot after reviewing the incident on the VAR’s behest.

Asked if that second might overshadow {the teenager}’s debut, Southgate stated: “Well, it shouldn’t do because he was excellent.

“His performance and then his reaction to what I know will have been a disappointment for him, but we’re not looking at him for being at fault in any way.

“His composure with the ball was outstanding and he should be really proud because we are very, very pleased with what he did.”

Southgate stated there was no have to console Lewis in regards to the penalty at half-time and as an alternative reminded him about how properly he was taking part in.

“We thought Rico throughout the whole game was excellent,” the England supervisor added. “Great composure, great resilience.

“We didn’t feel he had anything to come back from but I know sometimes as a player you might feel that.

“But we thought there was no crime, so we were pleased with everything he did.”

Lewis was the youngest starter on an evening when Manchester City team-mate Kyle Walker was the elder statesman and skippered his nation for the primary time.

“It was a nice moment for him to captain his country,” Southgate stated of the 33-year-old.

“He’s really grown in terms of his leadership. I know he’s thriving on that with his club and that will be a special moment in his career as well.”