LONDON (Reuters) - England lost at home for successive matches for the first time since 1977 after a powerful first-half header from Per Mertesacker was enough to give an experimental Germany a 1-0 win at Wembley on Tuesday.
It was Germany’s fifth win over England in six games at Wembley since they last lost there in 1975, and gave German coach Joachim Loew something to celebrate in his 100th match in charge of the side.
Both teams were using the match as part of their preparations for next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil, and Loew and England manager Roy Hodgson considerably altered their lineups. As such, the game lacked the intensity of many former clashes between the old rivals.
England, showing nine changes from the team that lost 2-0 to Chile on Friday, dominated for long periods of a generally low-key game but created very little despite having the majority of possession.
Roman Weidenfeller, who at 33 became the oldest goalkeeper to make his debut for Germany, did not have a save to make in the first half, with England’s only attempts at goal restricted to a Wayne Rooney header and a Steven Gerrard shot that both went over the bar.
Germany, who made eight changes from the team that drew 1-1 with Italy on Friday, defended well in depth but also created very little until just before they took the lead.
The 39th-minute breakthrough came from the third cross and header the Germans won in front of the England goal in the space of little more than 60 seconds.
The first header from Mertesacker was well saved by Joe Hart, the second from Heiko Westerman was half-cleared, and the third - from which Mertesacker scored when he outjumped Chris Smalling and gave Hart no chance - came from another cross from the impressive Toni Kroos.
England upped the tempo after the break as they sought to avoid an unwanted home record of two successive defeats, and they almost equalized after 57 minutes when a powerful low drive from Andros Townsend flew past the diving Weidenfeller but rebounded away off the foot of the post.
Recalled England keeper Hart made an excellent save midway through the second half from Marco Reus, while Townsend had another late attempt as Germany held on for a pleasing if rather unmemorable victory.
Reporting by Mike Collett, editing by Stephen Wood