England seal top spot as Pearce draws on reserves

Germany 1 England 1
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The Independent Online

Stuart Pearce, determined as ever to be his own man, last night took the unprecedented measure of fielding a reserve team for a match between England and Germany. At present, however, everything he touches turns to a goal or two. Already qualified for Friday's European Championship semi-final, his young charges achieved a deserved draw to go through as winners of Group B, which should offer a slightly easier tie against Sweden or Serbia, rather than Italy.

Having conceded a goal from open play for the first time in the tournament early on, a team showing 10 changes recovered impressively to draw level by the interval and hold their own comfortably in a quieter second half. Everton's Jack Rodwell, given a first start at this level was the outstanding player, holding the centre of midfield together alongside the captain Craig Gardner, who sprayed some good passes to the flanks.

"The team was picked to win the match and I felt we were the better side," Pearce said. "I needed to know about one or two players and a lot of my questions were answered."

While the first team rested, players such as Andrew Driver, born in Oldham but playing for Hearts, Tottenham Hotspur's Danny Rose, and two reserve goalkeepers were given valuable match experience. Watford's Scott Loach started in goal for the first time, although he was picking the ball out of his net within four minutes. A lack of understanding was evident among the defenders as Jerome Boateng played a pass down the inside-right channel that caught out Michael Mancienne. The Chelsea centre-half, sent off in his previous appearance here, was a spectator as Gonzalo Castro burst past him to steer the ball through Loach's legs.

Once settled, however, England made the better chances. Having staged a flawed dress rehearsal for the equaliser a quarter of an hour earlier, Gardner and Rodwell produced the real thing, the Everton teenager heading another of his captain's corners under the bar instead of over it.

Peterborough United's Joe Lewis replaced Loach for the second half and was largely untroubled. Theo Walcott replaced Fraizer Campbell for the last half-hour and Kieran Gibbs came into the centre of midfield but there was little further incident. The draw, after all, suited both teams, allowing Germany to qualify ahead of Spain.

England (4-2-3-1): Loach (Watford); Stearman (Wolves), Tomkins (West Ham), Mancienne (Chelsea), Taylor (Middlesbrough); Gardner (Aston Villa), Rodwell (Everton); Driver (Hearts), Rose (Tottenham), Johnson (Middlesbrough); Campbell (Manchester United). Substitutes: Lewis (Peterborough) for Loach, h-t; Walcott (Arsenal) for Campbell, 56; Gibbs (Arsenal) for Driver, 70.

Germany (4-4-2): Neuer (Schalke); Beck (Hoffenheim), Hoewedes (Schalke), Boateng (Hamburg), Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund); Castro (Bayer Leverkusen), Khedira (Vfb Stuttgart, Ebert (Hertha), Ben-Hatira (Hamburg); Ozil (Werder Bremen), Dejagah (Wolfsburg). Substitutes: Marin (Moenchen-gladbach) for Ben-Hatira, 67; Aogo (Hamburg) for Ebert, 84.

Referee: P Rasmussen (Denmark).

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