England boss upbeat despite second home defeat in five days
ENGLAND 0 vs GERMANY 1
ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson insists his side’s future is bright despite last night’s loss to Germany inflicting their first consecutive home defeats for 36 years.
Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker’s 39th-minute header proved enough for a second-string side who played within themselves yet comfortably kept Hodgson’s men at bay.
Tottenham’s Andros Townsend hit a post as England failed to muster an effort on target for the first home game in 14 years, yet Hodgson would not let the result sour a year in which they have qualified for next summer’s World Cup.
“It’s been a great year for the FA and it’s been a great year for me because we qualified for the World Cup,” he said. “I’m not prepared to accept for one minute, personally, that that’s going to take the shine off what’s been a very good year, in which we’ve achieved our goal, and we’ve got an awful lot to look forward to.
“I’m looking very much forward to 2014 and I thank 2013 for that.”
Hodgson hailed Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana, who shone here and against Chile on Friday, as “a major find”, and said embattled goalkeeper Joe Hart deserved to take confidence from making several key saves. “He played very well,” he added.
Both teams made wholesale changes – England, nine; Germany, eight – from Friday’s friendlies and Hodgson’s men shaded a cagey opening half hour without piercing their opponents and duly fell behind just before the interval.
No sooner had Hart revived his flagging reputation with an agile save from Mertesacker than he was picking the ball out of the England net after the centre-back beat Chris Smalling to another cross and buried a low header.
The axed Manchester City No1 shone just after the restart, blocking a Marco Reus effort after Mario Goetze had jinked through the heart of England’s defence, before the hosts enjoyed their best 10-minute spell of the match highlighted by Townsend thudding the post with a low drive that beat Roman Weidenfeller.
Hart exemplified his rollercoaster evening by needlessly charging from his box and flattening Smalling on the edge of the D as he cleared under only minor pressure, only to redeem himself with a low, one-handed save from Goetze.
Joe Hart 7
Fine save from Mertesacker header, then from Reus in second half. Uneasy coming off his line.
Kyle Walker 6
Solid defensively. Potent threat going forwards, though often conceded possession.
Chris Smalling 5
Outjumped by Mertesacker for the opening goal. Looked more assured as the game went on.
Phil Jagielka 7
Positioned himself well to make two vital interceptions. Comfortable in possession.
Ashley Cole 5
Lacklustre performance, though rarely troubled defensively. Replaced early in the second half.
Steven Gerrard 7
Fabulous range of passing. Dictated tempo of first half. Went close from 30 yards.
Tom Cleverley 5
Good energy, but contributed very little. Made few forward runs to support the attack.
Adam Lallana 6
Great work-rate, fine turn in the box almost created chance for first international goal.
Andros Townsend 8
Bright start, but struggled with the final ball. Hit the post from distance in second half.
Wayne Rooney 6
Energetic, but unproductive. Frustrating night. Struggled to link up with Sturridge.
Daniel Sturridge 5
No service in the first half. Control let him down at best sight of goal in second half.
Substitutes: Gibbs 6 (for Cole 52 mins); Henderson 6 (for Gerrard 56 mins); Wilshere 6 (for Cleverley 64 mins); Barkley 5 (for Rooney 71 mins); Lambert 5 (for Lallana 76 mins).