Belfast Telegraph

England blew chance to ruin Podolski's special night: Cahill

By Robert Jones

England defender Gary Cahill admitted a failure to punish Germany saw Gareth Southgate's first match as permanent manager end in a 1-0 friendly defeat.

Lukas Podolski marked his final appearance for Die Mannschaft with a stunning winner as Southgate's new attack-minded formation built on a three-man backline was unable to conjure a goal in Dortmund.

England looked comfortable in possession and a far larger threat than the World Cup winners, only to be caught cold as Podolski's 130th and final Germany appearance ended with a fairytale strike that secured victory.

"If you look at the chances, we had the better chances in the game, it's as simple as that," Cahill said.

"I think we will look back and reflect that if we had taken our chances we would have won that game. It's a learning curve for us."

Cahill, who was England captain on the night, said the terror attack on Westminster had been on the team's mind before the match.

He added: "Obviously that's terrible but we were focused on the job we had to do."

Podolski was making his 130th and final appearance for Germany and marked an emotional friendly with his 49th goal, a belter from 25 yards to seal a 1-0 win in the latest instalment of this storied fixture.

It was tough luck on England, who had controlled proceedings up to his 69th-minute strike, but Adam Lallana's solo effort against the post and a one-on-one miss from Dele Alli were as close as they came to beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Manager Southgate, though, was impressed, particularly with the way his team performed in a 3-4-2-1 formation.

"I was pleased with the performance. In these matches it's important you learn something and that the performance level is high. We achieved both of those things, but I don't like losing and neither do the players," he said.

"But I've also got to highlight to them the good things that they did. The new tactical system worked really well, there were individual performances throughout the team that were at a high level.

"We should have won the game, the one missing piece was the finish."

And Southgate was happy with how his men adapted to the new system.

"The system suits the players that we've got, particularly the likes of Dele Alli and Adam Lallana. It gets them into positions where they can be really dangerous, really effective," he said.

"We also looked at the way Germany play and I thought it was a good system to play against them to try and stop what they do with their full-backs getting high.

"So it posed them a problem rather than just us being reactive all the time. It meant we were able to press higher up the pitch, so it was a good performance all round."

With the Germany friendly now in the past, Southgate has already turned his attention to the World Cup qualifier with Lithuania on Sunday.

He added: "We have a qualifier at Wembley so we are always excited by that, we are looking forward to putting on a good performance for our fans at home. It's something to build on from tonight's game.

"This game has shown the players what they are capable of doing. We've had very good performances for 75-80 per cent of the games against Spain and Germany but not won either of them, so we still have improving to do, but we knew that and it gives us something to build on."

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