The final international break of 2023 is now over, and here we review England’s final two EURO 2024 Qualifiers.
November has seen the final international football of 2023 take place. Over the course of a couple of weeks, Gareth Southgate’s England side has faced Malta and North Macedonia in their final two qualification matches ahead of the 2024 European Championships in Germany. The Three Lions that a win in one of these matches would seal top spot in Group C.
England had already secured their place in the 2024 European Championships, and all that was left was to win their group.
The Three Lions began their campaign for a spot in EURO 2024 with a trip to Naples to face Italy at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Arsenal’s Declan Rice opened the scoring (13’) before Harry Kane, England’s all-time record goal scorer, found the back of the net from the spot in first half injury time to double his team’s advantage (44’). Mateo Retegui halved the deficit for the home team early in the second half (56’), but Southgate’s side held on for a 2 – 1 win.
Next up was Ukraine’s visit to Wembley Stadium. This was a comfortable 2 – 0 victory for the Three Lions, who scored thanks to Kane (37’) and Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka (40’).
Two successive emphatic victories then followed. First came a 4 – 0 away win against Malta, where Liverpool’s Trent Alexander Arnold (28’), Harry Kane (31’ – Penalty) and Callum Wilson (83’ – Penalty) found themselves on the scoresheet for England alongside an own goal from Maltese central defender Ferdinando Apap in the opening ten minutes of the contest (8’).
The second emphatic win of England’s EURO 2024 Qualifying campaign was a 7 – 0 success against North Macedonia under Wembley’s iconic arch. Harry Kane got a brace (29’, 73’ – Penalty), Bukayo Saka got a hat-trick (38’, 47’, 51’) with Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford (45’) and Manchester City’s Kalvin Phillips (64’) also getting on the scoresheet.
Kyle Walker then scored England’s only goal (41’) in a 1 – 1 draw against Ukraine on 9th September 2023. Former City teammate and current Arsenal star Oleksandr Zinchenko scored the goal for Ukraine on the night (26’).
Southgate’s Three Lions completed the double against Italy when the Azzurri made the trip to Wembley on 17th October. Harry Kane (32’ – Penalty, 77’) and Marcus Rashford (57’) both scored in a comfortable 3 – 1 win which secured a place in the 2024 European Championships in Germany. Former West Ham United forward Gianluca Scamacca scored Italy’s only goal on the night (15’).
This brings us to the final international break of 2023, which has seen England take on Malta and North Macedonia with the aim of securing top spot.
Ahead of the match, there was a poignant tribute to the late great Sir Bobby Charlton after the England and Manchester United legend passed away in late October.
The Three Lions knew that a win over Malta at Wembley on Friday would confirm their place at the top of the group. Gareth Southgate’s side did just that, winning 2 – 0 thanks to an Enrico Pepe own goal (8’) and a fantastic goal from Harry Kane (75’).
The home side were in complete command for the ninety minutes with 75% possession (compared to Malta’s 25%) and 3 shots on target with Malta having none themselves. It was a deserved win, which meant that despite Italy’s emphatic 5 – 2 victory against North Macedonia, England had now been declared Group C winners.
The game against North Macedonia meant a trip to the Toše Proeski Arena in the final match of the 2024 EURO Qualifiers. In a disappointing display from the Three Lions, Southgate’s England played out a 1 – 1 draw, with the away side scoring through a Jani Atanasov own goal early on in the second half (59’). Enis Bardhi had initially opened the scoring late on in the first half (41’).
Even though they could not secure the win, England had by far the most possession with 75%, compared to the home team’s 25%. England had more shots on target (16 compared to 5) but managed just one less effort on target with 2 compared to North Macedonia’s 3.
This brought the Three Lions’ EURO 2024 Qualifying campaign to an end. It was a tremendous campaign overall, with England winning the group with 20 points being accumulated form their 8 matches. Southgate’s side also managed to remain unbeaten.
It is a long time until the next international break, which is set to take place between the 18th and 26th March 2024. The 2024 European Championships themselves get underway on Friday, 14th June 2024.
Attention now turns back to domestic football with the Premier League finally returning this weekend, starting with Manchester City’s match against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium in a 12:30 kick-off on Saturday (25th).
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