England boss Gareth Southgate insists the glimmers of Three Lions promise were not dimmed by the disappointment of losing his first match in permanent charge of his country against Germany in Dortmund.
The night belonged to former Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski, who marked his 130th and final international appearance with a farewell goal to remember as he netted a stunning second-half winner – his 49th strike for Germany.
Southgate spoke in the build-up to the clash of adopting new ideas and ways of thinking in order for England to shake off the shackles of persistent failure and the tendency to flop at major tournaments.
He responded by naming an experimental side and adopting a back three, all of which gave the former Under-21 manager cause for future optimism.
“I think we deserved better but you only deserve better if you take your chances so we have to be honest about that part. But the performance generally was excellent,” said Southgate.
“I was really, really pleased with what we did. There were some really encouraging displays from players who haven’t played for us before. We were pretty solid defensively and created three really good chances so I have to be really happy with that.
“We controlled the game and looked composed in possession. The tactical system was the key learning tonight. I didn’t want to leave here not having found out about some individual players, which we’ve done.
“I didn’t want to leave not having found out about a different option with the system, which we’ve definitely done. I don’t like losing but I’m really happy with the performance.”
England had won on their previous three visits to Germany dating back to their 5-1 humbling of their rivals in Munich in 2001 and looked assured in the opening period.
Adam Lallana, who had netted on his three previous England appearances, powered away from the German defence following a loose pass on halfway shortly after the half hour mark, only for his effort to cannon off the post.
The Three Lions grew in stature as the half went on and, after more shambolic Germany passing, Jamie Vardy released Dele Alli, who was denied by Marc-Andre ter Stegen with only the Barcelona goalkeeper to beat.
But the occasion was merely bubbling to a crescendo for Podolski as he intervened on his special evening in spectacular fashion. The 31-year-old collected the ball 25 yards out and smashed a swerving left-footed effort into the top corner of Joe Hart’s goal after 69 minutes.