Pander punishes Three Lions
England fall to Wembley defeat
Last Updated: 23/08/07 6:11am
Pander: Dream goal
On a night in which a sell-out Wembley crowd prayed for an accomplished England performance, a Germany debutant failed to read the script, as Christian Pander's sublime strike secured a 2-1 victory for old foes.
In truth there were more questions raised than answered in a performance that was neither impressive nor depressive, but rather one of middling proportions.
England started by far the brighter and deservedly took the lead when Frank Lampard silenced his detractors with a thumping near post finish, after being played in by a typically marauding Micah Richards.
The Manchester City man impressed all evening, but the same cannot be said of a short of confidence Paul Robinson, who was badly at fault for Kevin Kuranyi's leveller midway through the half.
Robinson could not, though, be faulted for Pander's winner just five minutes shy of half-time. Taking possession 25 yards from goal, the accomplished German struck an arrow of a left-foot drive beyond the crestfallen keeper.
With injuries to Steven Gerrard and Owen Hargreaves ensuring Steve McClaren did not face the recurring difficulty of shoe-horning his star midfield trio into the same team, it was perhaps no surprise Lampard revelled in the open space he found.
There was no denying the quality of his finish though after Richards had capped a thrilling burst by slipping a pass inside Pander, to provide Lampard with the chance to flash home his 13th England goal.
It was the high point of another excellent performance from Richards, who is quickly establishing himself as an essential member of McClaren's team.
With a clear head, Robinson would surely have taken the safe option to push Bernd Schneider's cross over his own bar when the Germany captain launched the ball to an unguarded near post from the right touchline.
Instead, having failed to regain his ground following his own initial clearance, Robinson took the catastrophic option of pushing it back into his own six-yard box, straight into the path of Kuranyi, who could barely believe his luck as he tapped into an empty net.
It was not Robinson's only error either. Had Christoph Metzelder's header been on target when he met a Pander free-kick, when the England keeper charged out to catch without getting anywhere near, Robinson's face would have been as red as the German shirts.
In the event, the visitors did not need any help from Robinson for their second as Pander finished off an intricate three-pass move by belting what proved to be the winner into the top corner.
There were, though, some positives for England.
Michael Owen lasted almost an hour and in three weeks' time the Newcastle forward's sharpness may have returned to an extent where he will take at least one of the two good chances that fell his way.
And, in fairness to Owen, it took an outstanding save from Jens Lehmann to deny him on the first occasion.
Joe Cole too can be reasonably satisfied with his efforts, while there was no sign David Beckham's trans-Atlantic trip had taken any toll.
Major League Soccer's highest-profile star set up Kieron Dyer twice in as many minutes midway through the second half.
The latter opportunity was the best but Dyer disappointingly slid his shot wide, while Philipp Lahm nodded John Terry's header off the line near the end as England continued their fruitless chase for parity.
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|6||Shots on Target||4|
|6||Shots off Target||5|
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