Kai Havertz’s brace rescued Germany a 3-3 draw against England at Wembley Stadium, London, in a dramatic second-half six goal thriller.
Following a scrappy first-half, Ilkay Gundon fired Germany ahead from a 52nd minute penalty after Jamal Musiala had been fouled by Harry Maguire.
Kai Havertz doubled the visitors’ lead with a 67th minute curled strike before Luke Shaw and Mason Mount equalised for England with quick-fire goals.
Harry Kane’s 82nd minute penalty then put the Three Lions in front until Havertz poked in his second goal of the match four minutes later from Nick Pope’s error, as the two bitter sporting enemies ultimately settled for a 3-3 draw.
England however came into this match already relegated to League B after finishing bottom of their League A group, behind Germany who finished third whilst Italy beat Hungary 2-0 in Budapest to top the group and qualify for the Nations League A Finals.
Speaking post-match to Channel 4, Kane admitted that he thought England had “played really well today, we were unfortunate to go 2-0 behind, it was a mistake and then a great goal from the edge of the box.
“We did really well to stay in the game, to get back into it, get into the lead and then unfortunately another error. The mentality and fight of the team was shown out there today.”
Looking ahead to the World Cup off the back of their best performance of their Nations League campaign, Kane added: “We didn’t get the win but we can be proud of what we did and it puts us in a good place ahead of the World Cup.”
Gareth Southgate made two changes from Friday’s loss to Italy as Kyle Walker and Bukayo Saka both dropped to the bench, with John Stones and Luke Shaw replacing the pair in the starting line-up.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fikayo Tomori, Jack Grealish, James Ward-Prowse and Jarrod Bowen meanwhile have been dropped from the bench, as in comes; Jordan Henderson, Marc Guehi, Ivan Toney and Ben Chilwell, alongside Walker and Saka.
Following an impeccably observed minute-silence to mark the recent death of HM Queen Elizabeth II prior to kick-off, there wasn’t much quality of note in the opening 23 minutes.
England however managed to create the first quality chance in the 24th minute as Stones cleared a Germany free-kick to Shaw, who curled a low cross forward for Sterling to latch onto but his shot was punched behind by Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a low dive towards his right side.
Southgate’s Three Lions soon continued to press harder and won two consecutive corners just two minutes later, from which Harry Kane saw his header from the second set piece blocked by Niklas Süle before he rifled over from a difficult angle.
Kane then played a 28th minute forward pass to Sterling who could only miskick his return pass high and wide of the goal, before Kane could get forward towards the right flank to meet the return pass.
Stones then went down in the 35th minute with a hamstring injury which puts his World Cup spot in doubt, depending on the severity of the injury as he was quickly replaced by his Manchester City teammate – Walker.
England however didn’t seem too shaken as they continued to push hard as Harry Maguire headed over from a 39th minute corner, before Sterling saw a 44th minute shot saved by Ter Stegen as the first-half eventually finished goalless.
Both teams re-emerged re-energised after half-time as Sterling again forced Ter Stegen into action with a 49th minute save, before Werner volleyed over for Germany just seconds later from Joshua Kimmich’s directly chipped ball at the other end.
Maguire however gave the ball away on the restart to Jamal Musiala just outside of the box, only to clatter into the ex England youth international with initial penalty appeals denied until Video Assistant Referee (VAR) overturned the decision.
Ilkay Gundogan stepped up and fired the consquential spot kick into the bottom-right corner before Pope could even dive to attempt a save.
Bellingham soon after wasted several chances for England whilst Werner also lacked the finishing touch for Germany, as the match grew into a feisty contest with opportunities at both ends.
Germany however looked to have sealed the win courtsey of a 67th minute curled strike from Havertz who picked up Werner’s pass from outside of the box.
England however quickly hit back four minutes later as Bellingham’s curled cross was flicked on by Reece James to Shaw, who rifled in beyond Ter Stegen only for Süle to clear on the line just too late, as goal line technology ruled the ball had crossed the line in time.
Substitutes, Saka and Mason Mount linked up in the 75th minute as the former teed up Mount to rifle in from 20 yards to restore parity in front of a now vocal home crowd.
England soon found themselves on top as Kane saw a 81st minute shot denied, whilst Bellingham was fouled by Nico Schlotterbeck which resulted in a penalty following a VAR review, of which Kane fired the Three Lions ahead via a top-left corner strike beyond Ter Stegen’s reach.
Germany however refused to be beaten as Havertz poked in a 86th minute equaliser after Gnabry’s shot was spilled by Pope, which set up a grandstand finish.
Saka broke forward alone in the 90th minute but Ter Stegen was alert to punch his shot behind in what proved to be the last quality chance of this topsy-turvy thriller.
England and Germany will now head to the World Cup with England facing Iran, USA and Wales in Group B, whilst Germany meet Japan, Spain and Costa Rica in Group E.
England: Nick Pope, John Stones (Walker 37′), Eric Dier, Harry Maguire, Reece James, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham (J.Henderson 90+1), Luke Shaw, Phil Foden (Saka 66′), Raheem Sterling (Mount 66′), Harry Kane
Substitutes: Kieran Trippier, Aaron Ramsdale, Jordan Henderson, Kyle Walker, Conor Coady, Marc Guehi, Bukayo Saka, Mason Mount, Ivan Toney, Ben Chilwell, Dean Henderson, Tammy Abraham
Germany: Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Thilo Keher, Niklas Süle, Nico Schlotterbeck, David Raum (Gosens 68′), Joshua Kimmich, Ilkay Gundogan, Jonas Hofmann (Werner 45′), Jamal Musiala (Muller 79′), Leroy Sane (Gnabry 68′), Kai Havertz (Bella-Kotchap 90+1′)
Substitutes: Oliver Baumann, Matthias Ginter, Maximilian Arnold, Timo Werner, Serge Gnabry, Kevin Trapp, Thomas Muller, Benjamin Hendrichs, Armel Bella-Kotchap, Robin Gosens