Ruben Loftus-Cheek Stars in Debut as England Play Germany to 0-0 Friendly Draw

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2017

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10:  Ruben Loftus-Cheek of England and IIkay Gundogan of Germany battle for possession during the International friendly match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on November 10, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

England and Germany drew 0-0 in an entertaining international friendly at Wembley Stadium on Friday night.

The Three Lions received excellent performances from debutants Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jordan Pickford, with the latter making a number of impressive saves to keep Germany at bay, while substitute Jesse Lingard missed a great chance to win it deep into stoppage time.

England manager Gareth Southgate handed starts to Chelsea loanees Tammy Abraham and Loftus-Cheek, while Jamie Vardy also started up front:

Germany started Manchester City duo Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan, while handing a first cap to FC St. Pauli defender Marcel Halstenberg:

Die Mannschaft were nearly gifted the lead seconds after the game got underway when Harry Maguire's back pass was short and nearly let Timo Werner in. Everton goalkeeper Pickford saved well, though.

England should have been in front in less than 90 seconds when Danny Rose lofted a ball over the top for Vardy, whose pace easily took him clear of the Germany defence. The Leicester City striker pulled the ball across goal, but right-back Kieran Trippier could only hit the side netting.

Things settled down somewhat, but Germany's quality and ingenuity between the lines were obvious. Sane found space to launch a shot from distance Pickford couldn't get near, but England were saved by the bar.

Moments later, Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil threaded an excellent pass through for Werner, whose effort was saved well by Pickford, before Phil Jones headed the rebound off the line and Julian Draxler blazed the follow-up over.

Sane twice went close for Germany in the first half.
Sane twice went close for Germany in the first half.Matt Dunham/Associated Press

The heroic clearance was Jones' last action, as injury saw the talented but brittle Manchester United centre-back withdrawn. Liverpool utility defender Joe Gomez came off the bench to replace Jones.

Werner got free again five minutes before the break, but Pickford denied him with another splendid save. The Toffees stopper was making the most of his Wembley debut.

Despite the save, Oliver Holt of the Mail on Sunday felt there was a gulf in class between the two sides:

England's best chance of the half came when Abraham's shot on the turn was deflected just a whisker wide off Antonio Rudiger. The near miss enlivened the hosts, who began to pose more problems as Loftus-Cheek's influence grew in the No. 10 role.

It was the Chelsea prospect, on loan at Crystal Palace, who played in Vardy to try a deft lob Matthias Ginter just about headed clear of the goal to keep the sides scoreless at the break.

Loftus-Cheek wasn't afraid to try something different on his debut and provided one or two moments of impish flair during the first half. His bravado was applauded by Sam Wallace of The Telegraph:

England started brightly after the break, with Tripper whipping a cross onto Vardy's head, only for Marc-Andre ter Stegen to save well. Later, a slick combination between Tripper and Loftus-Cheek freed skipper Eric Dier to flash a low delivery across the box.

Seeing how much Vardy's pace had troubled the Germans, Southgate withdrew target man Abraham for Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford. Meanwhile, Germany boss Joachim Low swapped out Draxler for Liverpool midfielder Emre Can.

England should have won it at the death, but Rashford's United team-mate Jesse Lingard, who had also come off the bench, blazed over from inside the box.

The game ended 0-0, but Loftus-Cheek had earned many admirers, including Henry Winter of The Times:

Both sides played well despite depleted lineups and should consider this a worthy and encouraging tuneup as they begin looking toward next summer's FIFA World Cup in Russia.


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