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Tottenham Hotspur trio inspire England comeback win over Germany
Two-and-a-half years ago, England were unceremoniously defeated 1-0 by Germany at Wembley Stadium. It was a chilly November evening in London (as most are), as Roy Hodgson began the process of winnowing down his World Cup 2014 squad. The result against Germany, the eventual winners of the World Cup, wasn’t disappointing in itself, but the nature of the dull, predictable performance, with a lineup well inside Hodgson’s comfort zone (Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard both started) that portended England’s typically banal performance the following summer.
At the time, Jamie Vardy, Nathaniel Clyne, Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Harry Kane were doubtfully even on Hodgson’s radar. Vardy had just made his career-changing move from Fleetwood Town to Championship side Leicester City; Clyne had just broken into Southampton’s starting lineup; Alli wasn’t even of the age to drive and had just earned his first call-up to England’s Under-17 team; Dier had broken into Portuguese side Sporting CP’s reserves; and Kane was struggling for minutes on loan at Leicester, at best an England Under-21 hopeful.
Over the past two years, their inspiring individual transformations culminated in England’s rousing 3-2 away win over Germany in the two nations’ first meeting since that night in 2013. With an audacious team performance, undaunted by the reputations of their opponents in comparison to their humble backgrounds, the five young stars almost certainly earned their places in Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad and inspired a momentous win, albeit in a friendly, against a team that is realistically aiming to win it all in France this summer.
After going down 2-0 early in the second half, the Three Lions roared their way back into the match in implausible fashion. Kane accounted for the first goal with a lovely move in a tight corner of Germany’s penalty area, Vardy leveled the match with an inventive back-heel flick from Clyne’s cross — just two minutes after coming on as a substitute — and Dier snatched the win in stoppage time with a towering near-post header.
It very much felt like an extension of Tottenham Hotspur’s recent successes with a touch of steel around the edges. Mauricio Pochettino has cultured four England starters tonight at Spurs and Southampton and his influence was starting to show. England limited Germany to two shots on target, both of which found their way into the back of the net.
Alli was wearing injured captain Wayne Rooney’s No10 jersey but played with a conviction in the midfield that has faded from Rooney, evident from the very first moments of the match with an uncompromising challenge on Germany captain Sami Khedira.
Rooney might now find it difficult to maneuver his way back into the starting lineup with Alli, Dier, and Kane forming a formidable partnership for both club and country. Hodgson started Jordan Henderson alongside Dier in a 4-2-3-1 and opted for Danny Welbeck wide left. At this point in time, however, it appears that Rooney, lacking the sufficient pace to play out wide, is incompatible with England’s current starting lineup.
With a bright, young squad, having lost just one of their last eighteen internationals, the Three Lions clawed their way back into the big-boys table ahead of this summer’s Euros courtesy of a fantastic win over the reigning world champions.