Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Portugal POR

Denmark DNK

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Loftus-Cheek vows to improve after shining in Germany stalemate

England 0 Germany 0

By Mark Mann-Bryans

Ruben Loftus-Cheek insists he can still improve after making an impressive England debut in the entertaining goalless draw with Germany.

The first friendly in the build-up to the World Cup in Russia could have been thrown off kilter by the withdrawal of seven players, yet a youthful Three Lions side took their chance to impress against the World champions.

Loftus-Cheek was pivotal to the endeavour, creativity and steel displayed by England's inexperienced side at Wembley.

"If we'd won it would have been better, but I'm really happy," Loftus-Cheek, currently on loan at Crystal Palace from Chelsea, said. "It was good for us young players and I learned a lot so it's been a good night.

"To go to the World Cup, it is still a long season and I'll look to improve."

Midfield partner and captain on the night Eric Dier felt a youthful side had offered a promising glimpse of the future.

"I think we did very well against a very well-oiled machine in Germany," he said. "We also had our periods where we controlled the game.

"We need to continue to build - not just against Brazil (Tuesday's friendly) but for the future."

England manager Gareth Southgate hailed Loftus-Cheek as a player who can achieve "anything" after the game.

"He did everything that I know he can do," Southgate said. "I think it took him 10 minutes to realise, 'I'm okay here, I can play'. I think he needs that confidence because he's capable of anything.

"He's been a top performer in our junior teams for a long time, as have some of the others, and they showed they can step up."

On his side's overall performance, Southgate added: "We created a couple of really good chances and I felt our use of the ball was excellent.

"We have room for improvement but I felt it was a really healthy performance."

The match saw Germany join England in wearing black armbands bearing the poppy before a rendition of the 'Last Post'.

A classy moment of solidarity was followed by a friendly far more entertaining than any of England's recent matches.

Leroy Sane was proving Germany's biggest threat. A thrashed strike in the early stages was followed by a stunning 20th-minute attempt that hit the woodwork.

Germany were looking sharp on the break but Jordan Pickford was proving a sturdy last line of defence. Antonio Rudiger's long-range strike was easy enough but his one-handed save from Timo Werner was far more impressive.

England returned well after half-time and Loftus-Cheek was pulling the strings as they pushed for a goal, including feeding captain Dier to get away a cross that Mats Hummels had to hack behind his own goal.

Jesse Lingard lashed over with the last action of the game.

England: Pickford, Trippier (Walker 72), Jones (Gomez 25), Stones, Maguire, Rose (Bertrandat 71), Loftus-Cheek, Dier, Livermore (Corkat 86), Abraham (for Rashford 60), Vardy (Lingardat 86)

Germany: Ter Stegen, Ginter, Hummels, Rüdiger, Kimmich, Ozil, Gundogan (Rudy 86), Halstenberg, Draxler (Canat 67), Sané (Brandtat 87), Werner (Wagnerat 73).

Referee: Pawel Raczkowski

Man of match: Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Attendance: 81,382

Belfast Telegraph

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