England lost two games in a row at Wembley for the first time in years thanks a 39th minute header by Arsenal and Germany defender Per Mertesacker after a defensive mix-up at a set piece by Manchester United’s Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley.
Defeat will have been hard to swallow for the second game on the trot for England, especially to a set piece, and they were generally unable to raise themselves to sustain pressure on Germany.
It was an experimental game for both sides at Wembley but England can take a few positives out of a generally flat performance against a German side who just about deserved their win. Joe Hart was handed a start and made several crucial saves to keep England in the game while Andros Townsend did his best to book a berth on the plane to Rio de Janeiro. Hodgson is fast running out of friendlies with which to see other players who could find themselves joining them on the plane though.
Southampton’s Adam Lallana was one player who retained his place along with Wayne Rooney in the side from the Chile defeat last Friday but both were powerless to stop an experimental German side showing eight changes from their game against Italy last Friday from winning again at Wembley.
“It was a harsh defeat. We needed better quality tonight but I can’t fault the work rate or the effort or the desire. We just weren’t as efficient as the Germans were when we had the ball.
“We had some good movement but our passing and shooting wasn’t as good as theirs. We were a small team today and they scored from the second corner they had. It was a wonderful header by Per Mertesacker.
“It’s disappointing to end the year with a defeat, especially at Wembley, but I’m not as disappointed as I was in the game against Chile last Friday. All credit to Germany though.
“We used a lot of players and it has been a positive exercise. We learned a lot both positively and negatively but we had a lot of people coming to watch us in these two games and we haven’t sent them home with a smile on their face.”
Hodgson praised Hart’s contribution to the game, the Manchester City goalkeeper had been dropped by his manager Manuel Pellegrini but made a brilliant one handed save from Per Mertesacker at a German corner late in the first half but was blameless as the 6’7″ tall Arsenal defender punished slack defending by Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley to head home Toni Kroos’ cross as Germany continued to press at two subsequent crosses. There was a dodgy moment when Hart opted to rush off his line to meet an aerial ball and collided with Smalling in the second half but the City ‘keeper showed great composure to keep going after what could have been another costly blunder.
Andros Townsend will certainly be one player who should be on the plane after a good performance on the right wing for England. Townsend generally tested German left back Marcel Schmelzer with direct runs and passes to Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge, although the latter’s poor decision making potentially cost England an equaliser on the night, and could have scored a goal but for a swinging shot that came off the post in the second half with Germany ‘keeper Roman Wiedenfeller beaten.
Germany could have extended their lead in the second half when Marco Reus and Mario Gotze were denied by Hart although both sides had their attacking fluency interrupted when the inevitable stream of substitutions occurred.
Hodgson will know that England remain a work in progress but will have to do more to create chances and defend set pieces better.