Per Mertesacker’s first half header ensured England lost back-to-back internationals at Wembley for the first time in over 35 years as the second German string edged their old enemy.
Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson made wholesale changes from the defeat to Chile on Friday. Only Wayne Rooney and Southampton’s Adam Lallana survived. Skipper Steven Gerrard and Liverpool teammate Daniel Sturridge returned to the spine of the side.
They were joined there by Manchester United pair Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley. Andros Townsend was restored wide right in front of Tottenham Hotspur teammate Kyle Walker. Phil Jagielka and Ashley Cole completed nine alterations.
Germany coach Joachim Low chose to look at fringe players giving the likes of Manuel Neuer, Mesut Ozil and Philipp Lahm a rest. The visitors were also without joint record scorer Miroslav Klose and injured midfielders Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Arsenal defender Mertesacker skippered the side with Heiko Westermann and Marcel Schmelzer in the fullback berths. The Bender brothers – Lars and Sven – also started in midfield anchor roles.
Borussia Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller made his senior international debut aged 33. Club teammate Marco Reus joined Bayern Munich duo Mario Gotze and Toni Kroos in supporting Max Kruse in Germany’s attack.
Something of a slow burner, this prestige friendly was largely punctuated by visiting set pieces in the first half. Westermann nodded Reus’s free kick wide, but England largely contained their lofty opposition though without threatening overmuch themselves.
Rooney saw an aerial effort drop onto the roof of the net. More than half an hour came and went without either keeper needing to make a save. Hart then had to spring into action keeping out Mertesacker’s header from a corner and saving again from the rebound.
The second ball from the second successive set piece helped to breach the Lions defence. Kroos delivered back into the box and Mertesacker got up in between Smalling and Cleverley to give Germany the lead.
Gerrard lashed just over before the break and after it England came out with a renewed sense of purpose. Not before Hart had to spread himself well and save from Reus, however. Rooney and Sturridge began to link up better, but the luckless Lallana failed to capitalise.
Townsend then rattled the post with a rocket off the right flank that had Weidenfeller beaten all ends up. Mats Hummels saw a commanding 20-minute cameo end when Low subbed the half time substitute in favour of Benedikt Howedes.
Other German changes included Sidney Sam coming on and interchanging with Gotze well. Hart plunged low to his right to keep out the big money Bayern buy before the Bayer Leverkusen winger lifted over the bar.
Ross Barkley replaced Rooney for the Lions and helped to create concerted pressure with a flurry of corners. Smalling saw a header deflected behind off German sub Julian Draxler in among them late on, so England lost without working Weidenfeller - although the woodwork did come to his rescue.
Hodgson’s World Cup preparations show two losses for the record so far. Perhaps he can find solace in performances if not the results. More illustrious sides have little to fear next summer based on these November friendlies.
- England: 1 Joe Hart, 2 Kyle Walker, 5 Chris Smalling, 6 Phil Jagielka, 3 Ashley Cole (15 Kieran Gibbs 53’), 11 Andros Townsend, 4 Steven Gerrard (c) (21 Jordan Henderson 56’), 8 Tom Cleverley (20 Jack Wilshere 64’), 7 Adam Lallana (22 Rickie Lambert 76’), 10 Wayne Rooney (19 Ross Barkley 71’), 9 Daniel Sturridge 4-4-1-1
- Germany: 22 Roman Weidenfeller, 23 Heiko Westermann (10 Julian Draxler 67’), 17 Per Mertesacker (c), 20 Jerome Boateng (5 Mats Hummels 46’) (4 Benedikt Howedes 65’), 3 Marcel Schmelzer (7 Marcell Jansen 46’), 15 Lars Bender, 2 Sven Bender, 19 Mario Gotze, 18 Toni Kroos, 21 Marco Reus (9 Andre Schurrle 82’), 14 Max Kruse (24 Sidney Sam 56’) 4-2-3-1
- Goals: Per Mertesacker 39’