Wembley, London:Germany had virtually a whole team sidelined and still came out a winner at Wembley.
England had 11 players out, too. But after a 2-1 loss to the Germans in Wednesday's friendly, England coach Steve McClaren seemed no nearer finding the solution to getting his team to Euro 2008.
The defeat provided little joy for McClaren, who faces two tough qualifying games at home against Israel and Russia. England is fourth in its group and also has Croatia to overcome.
Although they didn't have to play stars such as Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Owen Hargreaves, the Germans were without Michael Ballack, Bastian Schweinsteiger and first-choice strikers Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski.
The absence of so many injured stars spoiled the latest chapter of one of international soccer's great rivalries, but the Germans still showed why they are five points ahead in their qualifying group.
"It's always good when you have to make a number of changes and you see those changes work," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "I am satisfied to see that we can play 4-3-3 or 4-5-1. I am happy for my young players.
"Needless to say, I'm absolutely delighted. We are a very young team and you can imagine they are dancing happily in the locker room."
Frank Lampard scored in the ninth minute then Kevin Kuranyi equalized in the 25th and Christian Pander scored with a 25-meter (yard) shot in the 40th. The result meant that the last team to beat England at the old Wembley is the first to do it at the new one.
Germany beat England 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier in October 2000 to win the final international staged at Wembley before it was demolished to make way for the 90,000-seat new one.
"There's only one team at Wembley," the German fans shouted in English to taunt the home fans in a crowd of 86,133.
Blow for McClaren
McClaren had hoped for a confidence-boosting performance. Instead, he was dealt a blow.
"I was delighted with the majority of it and the chances we created," McClaren said. "But disappointed with the goals we conceded. Of course, it's very disappointing for the fans, but there are so many positives."
There were huge cheers for David Beckham, making his 97th appearance and first since he began playing in the United States with the Los Angeles Galaxy. He played an energetic 90 minutes without showing too much discomfort from his injured left ankle.
Micah Richards, who starred as a center back in Manchester City's 1-0 victory over Manchester United on Sunday, beat Pander and Philip Lahm on the right and pushed the ball to Lampard, who shrugged off jeers from England fans in recent games for poor performances, and drove it powerfully past goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.
The goal stung the Germans to life.
Thomas Hitzlsperger's right-footed shot was fisted away by England goalkeeper Paul Robinson, but the ball was crossed in from the right by Bernd Schneider. Caught in trouble under his own crossbar, Robinson could only palm it down in front of his goal and Kuranyi was unmarked to prod it into an empty net.
"For 15-20 minutes we showed too much respect for our opponent and withdrew further almost to our own penalty box," Loew said. "The equalizer was a great help and we showed much more courage and even at the end we were dominating the game."
The Germans moved ahead with a top quality goal five minutes before halftime.
Pander, Hitzlsperger and Lahm swapped passes 30 meters (yards) out before the left back sent a rising shot to the top corner.
Almost from the restart, Michael Owen almost made it 2-2. Beckham curled in a cross from the right and, with the Germany goalkeeper grounded and unable to hold the ball, Owen was left with an empty goal to shoot at. Falling sideways and shooting from an acute angle, however, he sent the ball into the side of the net.
"I would have been more disappointed if we had not created the chances," McClaren said. "For the first 20-25 minutes, until we let them in, we were excellent. It was the ideal game for us, a hard, physically tough game. That's four games in 10 days for some of them."