After being well beaten the previous Friday against
now had to face the might of
although to be fair, it wasn't exactly a first choice German side that
turned up at Wembley Stadium on a crisp November evening.
Many of their top players were missing, which
meant that England's
eventual defeat in the game was a little more worrying.
started positively, and they drove forward at every opportunity, but
the Germans had no real difficulty in repelling the best
attacks, such as they were.
In fact the game quickly developed into a match played between
the penalty areas, and either side of the centre circle.
Lots of square and back passing and not a lot of imagination by
either side to try and find a penetrating pass forward.
It took 13 minutes before there was a goal attempt, and that
came from a German free-kick headed wide by Heiko Westermann.
As for England,
only a weak, looping header over the bar by Wayne Rooney constituted
anything like a goal attempt.
Two minutes later Adam Lallana's cross was cleared to Steven
Gerrard but his shot went high over the bar.
had set their stall out to frustrate
England, close them down at every
opportunity, and then try and catch them on the break.
Possession wise, they passed the ball around in their familiar
style but England,
if anything, had the better of the play but without causing any alarms
to the visiting defence.
As the half wore on play became scrappy as
England's midfield could not stamp
their authority on proceedings, and no-one seemed willing to take a
chance going forward.
England's best hope seemed to be
Andros Townsend who at least showed the Germans a clean pair of heels
with a couple of good runs down the right wing.
Phil Jagielka headed over from a Gerrard corner, and after 35
minutes it already looked as though the game was destined to be
goalless as neither side seemed capable of creating a clear chance.
Famous last words!
On 38 minutes a strong run by Lars Bender won a
corner for Germany. As the
cross came in the Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker had a free header,
which Joe Hart did brilliantly to keep out, as the ball was half
cleared another shot came in and again Hart saved well, for another
corner. This time England
half cleared the cross but the ball was quickly crossed again and this
time Mertesacker glanced an excellent header wide of the goalkeeper
giving Hart no chance. Why
little Tom Cleverly was marking the giant Mertesacker, only Chris
Smalling might be able to tell us?
The goal was just what the Germans came for, and just what
England didn't want.
England did manage one of their better efforts right on the half-time
whistle when Townsend set up Gerrard and this time the skipper's
dipping shot only just cleared the bar.
At the break England were a little unlucky to be
a goal down on the general play, but it was significant that
goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller had only touched the ball from
backpasses or goalkicks.
Maximillian Kruse had a great chance two minutes
into the second half when he had a clear shot as England backed off,
but luckily the ball flew over.
A minute later Hart did brilliantly once again, quickly coming
off his line to block a close range effort from Reus.
Just after that Townsend broke away down the right before
feeding Rooney. His cross
deep to the far post found Daniel Sturridge who volleyed the ball into
the ground and across goal.
Only a desperate touch off a German head stopped Lallana from
After 51 minutes Lallana again did well, but his
cross was cleared, and still, England had failed to test the
goalkeeper. When Lallana
then won a corner the England substitutions began in earnest.
Off went Ashley Cole and Gerrard, and the substitutions, to be
honest, killed the game for England, a) because they came at a time
when England were at last generating something like a little momentum
in their play, and b), the players that came on just couldn't get into
Then in the 57th minute a wonderful
crossfield pass from Jagielka, the best of the night, found Townsend,
who cut inside to unleash a terrific 25 yard left-foot shot which
crashed against the base of the post with the goalkeeper groping.
was the one moment of brilliance from England in the whole game and it
deserved a goal. There was
a scare five minutes later as Hart marred his otherwise excellent
performance when he and Smalling almost succeeded in getting in each
other's way. Luckily the
ball was cleared, as that could have been curtains for England and
more embarrassment for the under pressure Hart.
However, two minutes later Hart showed his class with a fine
save from Mario Gotze's cross shot.
Throughout the second half the umpteen changes in
personnel from both sides ruined the already poor game as a spectacle,
and although one understands that, from a manager's point of view, it
is a bit harder for the young (and old) spectators wanting to see the
top players playing an international at Wembley.
To be honest though, apart from Townsend's shot, not once could
you say that England looked like scoring.
Every corner they won was wasted, and they had plenty, and the
final ball into the danger area, at times bordered on awful.
There were some positives, not least in the performance of
Hart, who looked determined to show that he was back and firing on all
cylinders. Rooney was
lively, and Lallana too, did his cause no harm with some determined
work in the midfield. Roy
Hodgson has a lot of hard work to do over the next few months, and the
players must respond better over the next few internationals.
Hopefully we can get these bad games out of our system before
the important stuff starts.