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England comeback in vain as Germany rescue six-goal draw

England comeback in vain as Germany rescue six-goal draw

England ended their 2022-23 UEFA Nations League campaign without a single win to their name after playing out an enthralling 3-3 draw with Germany at Wembley Stadium in League A Group 3.

Gareth Southgate‘s relegated side showed no signs of improving their goalscoring fortunes in the first half, and a pair of Harry Maguire errors allowed Ilkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz to put Die Mannschaft 2-0 up in the second 45.

However, the hosts’ substitutions sparked new life within Southgate’s team, who were seemingly on the way to victory thanks to Luke Shaw, Mason Mount and Harry Kane before Havertz’s second of the match prevented England from claiming all three points.

Southgate elected to make two changes from the team that lost 1-0 to Italy last Friday, as John Stones and Shaw were drafted in for Kyle Walker and Bukayo Saka.

After an impeccably observed minute’s silence for the late Queen Elizabeth II, England’s chance creation struggles continued, but Nick Pope nearly handed Germany a gilt-edged opportunity on a plate.

The Newcastle United man’s heavy touch and poor clearance opened up an opportunity for Gundogan, but the Manchester City man could only watch his effort sail over the bar.

Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring for Germany against England on September 26, 2022© Reuters

Kane and Raheem Sterling spurned a couple of chances in quick succession just before the half hour mark as England began to up the ante, but their momentum was halted by an injury to Stones not long before half time.

The centre-back’s return from suspension lasted just 37 minutes before he was replaced by Walker due to a hamstring issue, and there were no goals to be had before the break.

Prior to kickoff, Maguire was the subject of boos from the home crowd, and the Manchester United man only worsened his standing with the Three Lions faithful after tripping Jamal Musiala inside the area within five minutes of the second half.

Referee Danny Makkelie initially told Musiala to get to his feet before the spot kick was awarded after a VAR review, and Gundogan stepped up to convert coolly into the bottom corner – Pope dived the right way but reacted far too late.

Germany did not rest on their laurels after opening the scoring – which marked the first time since 2013 that England had conceded first in three consecutive matches – as Niklas Sule and Timo Werner came close to doubling the Mannschaft’s lead but fired just wide.

The Three Lions appeared disjointed, error-strewn and low on confidence, which Southgate sought to rectify by bringing on Saka and Mount for Phil Foden and Sterling, but Maguire was once again the master of England’s downfall.

England players look dejected after Ilkay Gundogan scores for Germany on September 26, 2022© Reuters

The centre-back was caught in possession high up the field, and a rapid Germany counter-attack ended with Havertz curling home a sumptuous effort from outside the area in the 67th minute.

The mood around Wembley was lifted slightly when Shaw’s back-post finish trickled over the line in the 71st minute – ending a five-hour and 26-minute run without an open play goal for England – and the Three Lions were suddenly level just four minutes later.

Southgate’s substitutes Saka and Mount combined expertly, as the former progressed forward positively into space before finding the Chelsea man, whose first-time curling finish from outside the area nestled into the back of the net.

England were suddenly playing with purpose – thanks in no small part to the lively Saka playing in his favoured right-wing position – and VAR was on the hosts’ side when Nico Schlotterbeck‘s studs-up challenge on Jude Bellingham inside the area was penalised in the 82nd minute.

Kane had converted from the spot in Munich back in June and made no mistake this time either – firing into the top corner beyond Ter Stegen’s grasp – but the Three Lions’ joy was short-lived, as Serge Gnabry‘s effort from long range was spilled by Pope into Havertz’s path, and the Chelsea man gratefully tapped home.

There were no more goals to be had in the six minutes of additional time as England went six games without a win for the first time since 1993, but the Three Lions’ second half served as reason for optimism during their final warm-up game for the 2022 World Cup.

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