Sensational Podolski swansong ensures England defeat
FOOTBALL: Lukas Podolski signed off his international career with a sensational strike as Germany inflicted England's first defeat under Gareth Southgate with a 1-0 win in Dortmund.
Podolski, making his 130th and final appearance for Germany, brought the curtain down on his career in style, thundering his 49th international goal home from 25 yards to seal an unlikely victory for the world champions.
Until that point, a youthful yet experimental England side dominated for large parts at the Signal Iduna Park, Adam Lallana striking the post in the first half as the Three Lions failed to convert their dominance into goals.
However, despite tasting defeat, there will be more positives than negatives for England, who encouraging display served as perfect preparation for Sunday's World Cup qualifier with Lithuania at Wembley.
In the first game since his appointment as permanent England boss, Southgate opted for an experimental line-up, with Burnley's Michael Keane handed his debut in a three-man defence.
Jake Livermore ended more than four years in the international wilderness, making his first England appearance since a friendly win over Italy in August 2012.
Germany paid tribute to Podolski ahead of his 130th and final cap before retirement, but the first half at the Westfalenstadion was anything but celebratory as England dominated from the first whistle.
The visitors saw a penalty appeal ignored by the Slovenia officials on six minutes after Jamie Vardy, looking to draw contact, was sent tumbling by stand-in Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
A minute later, Keane blazed a glorious chance for a debut goal over the bar as a corner fell loose in the Germany area.
Podolski mustered the hosts' first attempt on goal on 17 minutes, but Chris Smalling threw his body in the way before England threatened once more.
However, having scampered clear of the Germany defence, Lallana's low shot cannoned off the inside of the post on 31 minutes.
Podolski fire wildly over the target shortly after before England created the best opening of the half on 42 minutes, but having been poked through by Vardy, Dele Alli drove the ball into Ter Stegen's midriff.
A positive first half was almost thrown away three minutes after the interval when Joe Hart's poor punched clearance fell to Julian Brandt, but the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder whistled a volley wide.
Podolski was unable to get on the end of the Toni Kroos' lofted pass on 54 minutes as Germany threatened, but the pace of Vardy and Alli on the counter ensured England retained control.
Only the fingertips of Ter Stegen prevented Vardy from turning the ball home on 55 minutes, after Eric Dier's unorthodox, bundling run and cross into in the opposition area.
Vardy almost latched onto Dier's quick long ball 12 minutes later but, again, Ter Stegen was on hand, preserving parity before Podolski stole the show.
Out of nothing, the former Bayern Munich and Arsenal striker unleashed an unstoppable effort which whistled past Hart in an instant after 69 minutes.
A raft of substitutions from both teams - which saw Southampton's James Ward-Prowse handed his Three Lions debut - followed, but there was to be no repeat of England's come-from-behind victory in Berlin last year on a night which ultimately belonged to Podolski.