ENGLAND WERE CONSIGNED to back-to-back Wembley losses for the first time since 1977 as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Germany tonight.
Less than a minute after Joe Hart denied Per Mertesacker, the Arsenal centre-back – Germany’s only Premier League representative on the night – exposed aerial frailties in the home defence by powering home.
A pair of second-half stops from Hart prevented Germany from enjoying an easier assignment on a night when leading lights such as Mesut Ozil were rested, while Tottenham winger Andros Townsend struck the post having been England’s most vibrant attacking option for most of the evening.
On the back of Friday’s 2-0 reverse to Chile, England manager Roy Hodgson has plenty to think about, especially as an unseeded place in the FIFA 2014 World Cup draw leaves the prospect of similarly formidable opposition.
Hodgson opted for the XI he had hinted at pre-match as Hart started for the first time since Manchester City’s defeat at Chelsea last month and Adam Lallana retained his place, following an enterprising debut against Chile.
At 33, Roman Weidenfeller became the oldest goalkeeper to make his international debut for Germany and was one of five Borussia Dortmund players in Joachim Low’s side, including Bender twins, Dortmund’s Sven and Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars, in midfield.
An England fan in the stands. David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images
England started brightly but failed to test Weidenfeller – Wayne Rooney’s looping 20th minute header that nestled on top of the net the closest they came.
Germany were far more clinical and, after Hart magnificently denied Mertesacker and diverted the follow-up behind, the Arsenal centre-back rose above Chris Smalling cross to finish Toni Kroos’ cross as the resulting corner was only partially cleared.
England captain Steven Gerrard was inches away from levelling on the stroke of half-time with a vicious 30-yarder that dipped over.
Hart impressed once more four minutes into the second half, out quickly to block Marco Reus’ shot after Mario Gotze picked his way through a host of England challenges.
England responded well and two last-ditch challenges were required to deny Lallana before Townsend – whose searing run brought about the former opportunity – clipped the base of Weidenfeller’s post with a left-footed drive.
Recalling his recent wobbles, Hart made an ill-advised dash from his area and clattered Smalling in trying to deal with a lofted pass, but 26-year-old offered another demonstration of his quality with a superb reaction stop from Gotze.
England’s backline was breached once again as substitute Sidney Sam lofted over but Sturridge spurned a chance at the other end with 70 minutes played, failing to take Rooney’s sharp pass into his stride.
Smalling almost atoned for his earlier mistake when his 80th-minute header was deflected behind by Julian Draxler before Germany repelled an enthusiastic late push from their hosts.