After only beating Macedonia 1-0 during England's last outing, the home side were looking for a better scoreline, and at least three points from this game. However, Macedonia proved a tough nut to crack and neither team were able to break the other's defence during the course of the match. This was not an encouraging result from England, especially with a tough game against Croatia coming up in four days. With Owen Hargreaves out injured, McClaren brought in Michael Carrick to help in midfield. Rio Ferdinand pulled out of the match just before kick-off with back injury, and was replaced by Ledley King. One bright spot prior to the kick-off was the return of Wayne Rooney to the international scene after missing the first three games of the season due to injury and suspension.
Macedonia's goalkeeper, Nikoloski, had a good match and denied England on a few occasions, although McClaren's men did not create that many opportunities to score. Pandev ran at England's defence after ten minutes of play but his shot went into the side netting. Twice in the space of a couple of minutes, Gerrard's crosses went astray as he swung the ball into the area for an England player to latch on to.
Two minutes into the second half, Stewart Downing took a free-kick which was met by Lampard. Unfortunately the Chelsea midfielder's header was pushed away by Nikoloski. Moments later, Gerrard collected a yellow card which means that he is suspended for England's next match. A suspension England could do without.
Mitrevski had England fans hearts racing when he headed the ball only just over the bar. It was close thus leaving the game scoreless. Stojkov forced a save from Robinson, and it was suddenly looking a bit bleak for England. Downing and Crouch tried to make an impact on 58 minutes when the Middlesbrough player sent in a lovely cross to Crouch. Liverpool's forward's diving header prompted a great save from Nikoloski. The ball then fell to Neville, who blasted the ball onto the bar and the chance was gone for the go-ahead goal.
Before the final whistle was blown, Gerrard attempted to break the deadlock but his effort went off the crossbar, and into injury time, Crouch missed with another header.
Despite the 0-0 scoreline, England managed to remain at the top of the group, although only on goal difference with Israel right behind them. Let's hope that the England players manage to find the net on Wednesday when they travel to Croatia.
Robinson #1, A Cole #3, King #5, G Neville #2, Terry #6 - Captain, Carrick #7, Downing #11 (Wright-Phillips 70 mins - #16), Gerrard #4, Lampard #8, Crouch #10, Rooney #11 (Defoe 74 mins - #17).
Subs Not Used: Kirkland #13, Carragher #14, P Neville #12, Parker #15, Bent #18. (Full Squad)
Nikoloski #1, Lazarevski #14, I Mitreski #5, Noveski #2, Petrov #3, Sedloski #4 - Captain, A Mitreski #6, Sumolikoski #8, Maznov #9, Naumoski #11 (Stojkov 46 mins - #20), Pandev #19 (Tasevski 83 mins - #18).
Subs Not Used: Pacovski #12, Popov #16, Vasoski #15, Jancevski #17, Sakiri #10.
England Caution: Gerrard (49 mins)
Macedonia Caution: Petrov (47 mins)
Referee: Markus Merk (Germany)