Lukas Podolski scored what just may be the finest goal of his glittering international career on Wednesday in his farewell game for Germany against a young England side, as the Die Mannschaft edged their arch-rivals 1-0 in an international friendly that was high on emotion.
Given the captain’s armband by coach Joachim Low on his 130th cap, Podolski’s howitzer of a shot in the 68th minute left a sprawling Joe Hart with no chance and while England had plenty of chances to win the game, they were left to rue their profligacy in Dortmund.
England manager Gareth Southgate made a few surprises with his team selection, opting to give Michael Keane his first England start along side Gary Cahill in the centre of defence and Jake Livermore marked his comeback into the national side with a start in midfield. Jamie Vardy was given the nod ahead of Marcus Rashford and Adam Lallana started with Raheem Sterling warming the bench.
Joachim Low sent out a strongest possible XI, with young Timo Werner leading the line ahead of Leroy Sane, Lukas Podolski and Julian Brandt. Marc-Andre ter Stegen started in goal in place of the injured Manuel Neuer.
The Three Lions, playing in their new navy blue kit for the first time, began the first half positively and while the hosts were just about ahead in the possession stats, England looked dangerous on the counter.
And after an uncharacteristically sloppy pass was intercepted by Lallana near the halfway line, it seemed like England would take the lead. The Liverpool man sprinted through on goal with Mats Hummels the sole defender and Vardy arriving in the centre, but selfishly chose to shoot from a narrow angle rather than laying it off his teammate. The shot beat Stegen but came off the post to give Germany a reprieve.
Podolski sent a shot over from distance a couple of minutes later as Germany tried to get back into the game but it was England who would have the last clear-cut chance of the first half.
Again Germany gave the ball away needlessly in their own half and Vardy was alert enough to set up Dele Alli for a one-on-one with Stegen. The Tottenham Hotspur man, however, chose to shoot straight at the German custodian, who did nothing but make himself big and bail out his side.
The second period began in the same vein as the first, with England looking dangerous on the counter but were lacking the clinical finish in the final third.
And the masters of efficienty, Germany, finally got on the scoresheet with the man of the night showing them just what they will be missing in the coming years. Collecting substitute Andre Schurrle’s one-touch pass ten yards from the England penalty area, Podolski took a touch to steady himself and with nobody closing him down, let loose with a venomous shot. The ball flew into the top corner and his celebration with the rest of the team showed just how much the game meant to him.
Substituted in the 84th minute for Sebastian Rudy, he got a standing ovation from the capacity crowd and both teams as he called time on his international career with an impressive 130 appearances and 49 goals. Post the game, he was thrown in the air by his teammates and with plenty of youth in Germany's squad on the night, many will be hoping to emulate the affable Poland-born winger.
Germany now travel to Azerbaijan on Sunday for their FIFA World Cup qualifier and know that they need to buck up as luck wont be on their side forever, but the fact that they have now gone seven games without conceding is commenable in itself.
England host Lithuania in their World Cup qualifier and will take plenty of positives from their vibrant display in Dortmund to Wembley.