Lukas Podolski brought the curtain down on his international career with a stunning winning goal to hand Germany a 1–0 friendly victory against England in Dortmund.
The World Cup-winning striker scored his 49th international goal on the occasion of his 130th, and final, appearance for the national team, finishing off a flowing move by hammering an unstoppable 69th-minute effort beyond a helpless Joe Hart from 25 yards.
“It was like a movie,” Podolski said, who announced his retirement from international football after Euro 2016 but was granted one final farewell appearance in the national jersey.
“It was the perfect end.”
Podolski was handed the captain’s armband for the evening by Germany manager Joachim Low, who also gave 21-year-old RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner his debut alongside Podolski in attack.
Gareth Southgate, taking control of his first game as the permanent manager of England, awarded Burnley defender Michael Keane his first cap as part of a three-man defence. West Bromwich Albion midfielder Jake Livermore made his first international appearance since August 2012, deputising for injured Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson.
“It was the perfect end”—lukas podolski
The visitors started brightly and had strong claims for a penalty turned down on six minutes as Jamie Vardy went down under a challenge from German goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
On the 31st minute, midfielder, Adam Lallana pounced on a slack pass from Germany full-back Joshua Kimmich on the halfway line before racing into the penalty area, only to see his left-footed shot come back off the inside of Ter Stegen’s left-hand post.
An even better chance fell the visitor’s way in the 41st minute, but Dele Alli could only fire straight at Ter Stegen when clean through one-on-one with the German goalkeeper.
Germany improved after the break and Julian Brandt went close before Ter Stegen again kept the hosts level, parrying Eric Dier’s low cross away with Vardy lurking.
Then, in 69 minutes, Podolski lit up his big night with the game’s only goal, rifling an unstoppable 25-yard effort into the postage stamp of Hart’s net after being teed up by substitute Andre Schurrle.
Hart then did well to deny Leroy Sane, getting down low to his left to save a stinging angled drive.
The home crowd were soon on their feet again, this time to salute the departing Podolski, who exited to a tremendous ovation as he made way for Sebastian Rudy for the final few minutes, as Germany held on to secure the victory.
PoDolski stats: Germany’s third most capped player (130) and third highest goalscorer (49).
“I think it was a very good game”, said Germany manager Low.
“It was good to play against opponents who really gave us a run for our money.
“England were playing more intensely, especially in the first half. It took us a while to get used to, but slowly and surely our players found their rhythm.”
It was a first defeat as England manager for Gareth Southgate, but he was encouraged by his team’s performance.
“Up until the goal I thought we were the better side”, he claimed.
“I’m very pleased with the manner of the performance. The one bit we missed was the finishing touch.”
But the night ultimately belonged to retiring hero Podolski, who calls time on an international career that made him Germany’s third most capped player. Only Miroslav Klose (71) and Gerd Muller (68) found the net more often in a Germany shirt.
“It was a great game, a great result and a great way to say goodbye”, Podolski said.
“To get a reception like that gave me goosebumps.”
—Alistair Sargent, Correspondent (Sport)