Pickford and Sane shine as England draws with Germany

There were no goals but plenty of encouraging performances from both sides as England and Germany drew at Wembley on Friday.

Germany's Leroy Sane tussles with Phil Jones of England during the teams' clash on Friday.   -  Bongarts

England held world champion Germany at Wembley as two experimental sides played out a 0-0 draw in their first friendly since sealing World Cup qualification.

The Three Lions had been expected to feel the absence of key men Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane, among others, while Joachim Low's visitor was similarly missing stars Manuel Neuer, Leon Goretzka and Thomas Muller.

But there was no lack of quality on display in a match that was more entertaining than the scoreline suggested, as the in-form Leroy Sane starred for Germany and struck the woodwork with the best effort of the first half.

Read: Low satisfied with Germany's performance

Jordan Pickford, making his senior debut for Gareth Southgate's men, deserved that slice of luck as he turned in a determined performance, keeping out Timo Werner on multiple occasions.

Chances at the other end were considerably more scarce, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek also impressed in his England bow, with the host looking increasingly relaxed in a new-look 3-5-2 formation as the game wore on before substitute Jesse Lingard wasted a super chance to win it at the death.

READ: Loftus-Cheek targeting World Cup place after impressive England debut

Considering the talk of farce at the host's numerous withdrawals from the squad, this ended up being a handy workout for Southgate and his side against top-class opposition, with Brazil the next opponent in London on Tuesday, when Germany is also at home in another glamour friendly against France.

England has now gone five matches without defeat, while Germany has not lost in 20 games since Euro 2016.

Two England debutants were instantly in the thick of the action as Pickford was forced to rush from his line to challenge Timo Werner inside the opening minute, before a low left-wing centre just evaded the advancing Tammy Abraham at the other end.

Sane thrashed wide of Pickford's goal following a pass from Germany's own new boy Marcel Halstenberg, but the Manchester City winger continued to trouble the England defence.

He curled a wonderful effort against the underside of the crossbar when given time and space 20 yards out, before Sane threatened again in Germany's next attack of note when, with the goalkeeper beaten, he saw Phil Jones brilliantly block his strike in front of the line after a rebound from Werner's saved shot had fallen into his path.

That proved to be the end for Jones as further injury misfortune for Southgate required the introduction of another newcomer in Joe Gomez, who then lost the lively Werner and watched on with some relief as Pickford saved superbly.

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Abraham's first real sight of goal so nearly led to the opener as England ended the first half on the front foot, but a deflected effort looped just wide.

The interval did not disrupt the momentum England had started to build and only Marc-Andre ter Stegen's strong right arm kept a Jamie Vardy header out shortly after the restart.

That preceded the game's quietest spell as Germany monopolised possession, with Loftus-Cheek only occasionally prompting a counter-attack, as a series of substitutions slowed play further heading into the closing stages.

England could well have stolen victory with the last kick of the game as Lingard lashed a close-range finish over the crossbar after Harry Maguire had headed substitute Marcus Rashford's free-kick into his path.

That meant both sides had to make do with a draw that should offer each of the coaches some encouragement as next year's tournament in Russia begins to move into view.

Key Opta Stats:

England and Germany remain on 13 wins against each other in international competition, with the other six games ending in stalemates (32 total meetings).

This was the first goalless draw England has played out at Wembley since October 2010, when it drew 0-0 with Montenegro under Fabio Capello.

It was also the first 0-0 between England and Germany since June 1982, when Ron Greenwood's side drew against West Germany at the World Cup in Spain.

The Three Lions remain unbeaten at Wembley under Gareth Southgate (W5 D2), keeping five clean sheets in seven games.

 After recording eight shots (inc. blocks) and four on target in the first half, Germany managed just one shot off target in the second half.

England handed starts to debutants Jordan Pickford, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham against Germany. Prior to this, the last time that three England debutants started in the same game was against Chile in November 2013 (Fraser Forster, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez).

Overall, England saw a total of five players make their debut in this game (also Joe Gomez and Jack Cork); its most in a single international fixture since November 2012 (6 v Sweden – Leon Osman, Steven Caulker, Ryan Shawcross, Carl Jenkinson, Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Zaha).

 

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