Thu, Nov 21, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Mertesacker gives England that sinking feeling

AFP, LONDON

Germany defender Heiko Westermann, left, vies for control of the ball against England’s Kieran Gibbs during their match at Wembley Stadium in London on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

Germany procured a smash-and-grab 1-0 victory over England in a friendly at Wembley on Tuesday, consigning their old rivals to successive home defeats for the first time since 1977.

The sides’ first meeting since Germany’s bruising 4-1 win in the last 16 at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was decided by a 39th-minute header from Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker.

Manager Roy Hodgson’s England had opportunities to equalize, notably when Andros Townsend hit the post in the second half, but after Friday’s 2-0 loss to Chile at the same venue, they end the year with a pair of defeats.

“It was a harsh defeat. We needed better quality tonight,” Hodgson said. “The effort, the work rate, the desire I can’t fault, but for all the time we had the ball, we weren’t as efficient as the Germans were. We had some good movement, but the quality of our passing was not as good as theirs. We were a small team today and they scored from the second corner they had. We learnt 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.”

Germany have now won on their last six visits to England — including a penalty shoot-out success at Euro 96 — and will look ahead to next year with their status as serious World Cup contenders intact if not enhanced by a polished, but unspectacular performance.

“The fact that we won here at this time-honored place is a source of joy for us,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “Over the 90 minutes, we deserved to win this game. We had a good grip on the game. What we missed was converting a few chances on the break, especially in the second half, to seal the game earlier than we did.”

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