England were on their knees and then on the brink of a transformative comeback win before a bad Nick Pope error late on ensured their final game before the World Cup ended 3-3 against Germany.
It was looking bleak for the confidence-hit hosts when Harry Maguire errors had led to an Ilkay Gundogan converted penalty and Kai Havertz beauty but somehow from 2-0 down England fought back with a four-minute double from the impressive Luke Shaw and Mason Mount.
Harry Kane’s fierce penalty then made it 3-2 as England ended their goal drought in style. Wembley was rocking and believing again but that atmosphere was suddenly silenced when Pope spilled Serge Gnabry’s shot for Havertz to tap in his second and equalise.
Southgate’s side were already relegated from Nations League Group A3 and they have now failed to win for six games in a row for the first time in 29 years but that fightback will at least send supporters away from the national stadium feeling there is still potential to unlock in this group of players, if they can find form and belief before their World Cup kicks off against Iran on November 21.
England had produced an improved first-half performance compared with their efforts in Italy on Friday night but there was still a clear air of nervousness both on the pitch and among an unusually quiet home crowd at Wembley.
England made two changes from the defeat to Italy, with John Stones replacing Kyle Walker in the back three and Luke Shaw taking Bukayo Saka’s left wing-back slot
Germany made four changes to their loss with Hungary with Antonio Rudiger suspended and Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry and Timo Werner dropping to the bench. In came Thilo Kehrer, Nico Schlotterbeck, Kai Havertz and former England youth international Jamal Musiala
Amid the good tackles in midfield and quick counter-attacks there were mis-placed passes, poor touches and snatched finishes at the end of encouraging moves, with Kane unable to find Phil Foden with an early cross and Sterling firing at Marc-Andre ter Stegen from England’s best move, before escaping unpunished from penalty appeals when he tugged Thilo Kehrer’s shirt at the other end.
The home side grew in confidence on the front foot, though, with Kane dipping a volley just wide, Maguire – booed pre-match and then chanted for – heading onto the roof of the net and Sterling testing Ter Stegen either side of the break.