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  • By Yann Tear at Wembley Stadium

England finally locate a pulse in rousing World Cup-eve draw with old foes Germany

England (0) 3 Shaw 72, Mount 75, Kane pen 84

Germany (0) 3 Gundogan 52 pen, Havertz 67, 87

Well, nobody saw this second half coming.

There we all were, ready to pen the obits for the Gareth Southgate era as they trailed 2-0 and then suddenly the Three Lions had lift-off.

Three goals in a crazy 12-minute spell from a team previously incapable of netting even once in open play in their previous five Nations League games transformed the mood from no-hopers to World beaters in the blink of an eye.

It was as if the entire team had been plugged into new power source – the old batteries having all-but flatlined to zero.

Alas, the remarkable comeback did not quite have the pay-off line it needed for England’s beleaguered manager as the Germans struck late to snatch a draw - where have we heard that one before?

Chelsea’s Kai Havertz was the man doing the damage – stabbing in his second goal of the night after Nick Pope had spilled a shot from sub Serge Gnabry. It should have been a routine stop.

But oh that crazy spell. First Luke Shaw poked home at the far post, then two England replacements combined to make it 2-2 – Mason Mount finishing crisply after racing onto a Bukayo Saka pass.

And as if that was not enough, there was then a Harry Kane penalty to make it 3-2 after defender Nico Schlotterbeck had planted his studs into Jude Bellingham with a late challenge which was picked up by VAR.

It was a pity the story was spoilt, but then again Germany love Wembley and, apart from that rare aberration at last year’s Euros, always win here, so perhaps this was almost as good as a win.

They look upon it as home from home and once again looked to heap misery on their biggest rival.

The drama that unfolded was all a far-cry from a dreadful first half when the respectful silence before the start in honour of the Queen pretty much lasted the entire 45 minutes.

These competitive Nations League fixtures were supposed to eliminate the sense of futility which friendlies often engender, but with both teams having flopped in the group and being woefully out of form, there was even less of an edge than in a normal fixture between these great foes.

But the soporific nature of the contest was blown apart in the second half.

England needed to find something. They have been woeful – as if trying their very best to reign in runaway expectations for the forthcoming beano in Qatar. In that, they have succeeded big time.

The 1-0 loss to Italy in Milan on Friday condemned Southgate’s team to dropping out of the elite Nations League groups. It also made it just the one goal in five group games and five without a win.

We have entered manager endgame territory on the very eve of a tournament.

Their lack of confidence was evident. This is very much a unit which has lost its way at the worst possible moment.

Pulses were raised in the 25th minute when England’s famously toothless attack almost ended a long wait for a goal – Raheem Sterling wrong-footing two defenders after scampering onto a long pass and forcing Marc-Andre ter Stegen into a fine save. Kane volleyed just wide.

In another England breakaway – the man source of optimism for the red-shirted Three Lions – Kane fed Sterling for a low left-footer inside the box the keeper had to treat respectfully.

The Germans hogged the ball without doing too much damage, although playmaker Joshua Kimmich had Pope scrambling with a daisy-cutter.

Five minutes into the second half and Germany were awarded a penalty after a VAR check ruled Harry Maguire had clipped Havertz, which Ilkay Gundogan put away calmly.

Timo Werner should have doubled the lead but his finishing from one particularly good opening was very reminiscent of his Chelsea days. But he made amends by squaring the ball to former team-mate Havertz, who had all the time in the world to bend a left footer beyond Pope.

And that was that. Except it wasn’t. Not quite.

England: (3-4-1-2) Pope – Stones (Walker 37), Dier, Maguire – James, Bellingham (Henderson 90), Rice, Shaw – Foden Saka 66), Sterling (Mount 66) – Kane.

Germany: (4-2-3-1) Ter Stegen – Kehrer, Sule, Schlotterbeck, Raum (Gosens 68) – Kimmich, Gundogan – Hofmann (Werner h/T), Musiala (Muller 78), Sane (Gnabry 68) – Havertz (Bella-Kotchap 90).


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