England Women earned a notable 0-0 draw with eight-time European champions Germany in Duisburg.
It was only their third draw against their much-lauded opponents in 22 matches – the last two coming in 2007.
Silvia Neid’s side might have shaded possession and had a few more shots at goal, but the Lionesses competed well and were by no means outplayed by a team ranked second in the world – and it will provide England with a timely boost ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2017 qualifier against Bosnia & Herzegovina in Bristol.
Germany 0-0 England
A Women's International
5pm GMT, Thursday 26 November
Although England defeated Germany to win World Cup bronze in the summer, that was their first-ever win over them.
The hosts have won two World Cups as well as the last six Euros, and they have only lost six games in the last four years, winning 30 of their last 35.
Add to that the fact that The FA WSL season has finished while the German league is in full swing, the size of the task facing England was obvious.
There were five changes from the match against Australia last time out. Fara Williams and Jordan Nobbs made their first appearances since the World Cup and there were also starting berths for Alex Greenwood, Fran Kirby and Jodie Taylor.
The game took a while to settle and this, in part, was down to England’s high pressing game.
Germany had two openings in the early stages, but Simone Laudehr was flagged for offside and then Greenwood hooked clear before Lina Magull could reach a low cross.
Babett Peter headed Lena Goeβling’s in-swinging free-kick just over the top of Karen Bardsley’s goal and then Anja Mittag tried her luck from range but hooked her shot wide of the post.
The visitors grew into the game and enjoyed more possession than they did early on, but were initially unable to test Germany’s debutant goalkeeper Laura Benkarth.
Their first shot came in from range from Nobbs, but it was straight at Benkarth. That was moments after Bardsley excelled herself to deny Felicitas Rauch at her near post, when the left-back was clean through.
England’s best chance of the match fell to Demi Stokes, who impressed against Australia last month.
Steph Houghton’s clearance inadvertently played Taylor in behind the Germany backline. Taylor squared for Nobbs, who moved the ball on to Stokes, but her low, angled shot was very well saved by Benkarth.
The final chance of the first half fell to Leonie Maier as her powerful drive was tipped over the top by Bardsley.
Things were a bit disjointed after the break. Neid made four substitutions at half-time and England continued to disrupt their hosts’ rhythm with their frantic pressing.
Indeed, the first two chances of the second half didn’t come until 65th minute as Peter prodded a half volley wide and then substitute Melanie Leupolz hit the ball straight at Bardsley.
Germany’s best chance of the match came with just under 15 minutes remaining.
Substitute Dzsenifer Marozsan, on for Mittag, peeled away inside the box to meet Goeβling’s corner. Much to England’s relief, she could only head into Bardsley’s arms from just six yards out.
Toni Duggan came off the bench for her first appearance since the summer, and her pressure on Benkarth led to a mistake by the rookie keeper – but Scott was unable to punish her further, mis-cueing an attempt at a long-range chip.
The Manchester City midfielder had one more attempt in the final minute, lifting Duggan’s lay-off just over the bar.
England will fly back home on Friday and begin preparations for Sunday’s Euro qualifier against Bosnia at Ashton Gate (3.30pm GMT KO).
Tickets are priced £5 for adults and £2.50 for children. A family ticket (two adults and two children) is available at £10 and group booking discounts apply.
Tickets can be purchased via TheFA.com/Tickets or by calling 01179 630 600.
Germany: 12 Laura Benkarth, 4 Leonie Maier, 5 Annike Krahn (C), 6 Simone Laudehr, 7 Melanie Behringer, 8 Felicitas Rauch, 11 Anja Mittag, 14 Babett Peter, 15 Anna Blasse, 18 Lina Magull, 20 Lena Goeβling.
Substitutes: 23 Sara Dabritz for Blasse ht, 16 Melanie Leupolz for Behringer ht, 22 Tabea Kemme for Laudher ht, 9 Mandy Islacker for Magull ht, 10 Dzsenifer Marozsan for Mittag 67
Substitutes not used: 21 Lisa Weiβ, 2 Jennifer Cramer, 17 Kristin Demann, 24 Sara Doorsoun.
Head coach: Silvia Neid
England (4-3-3): 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), 2 Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), 5 Steph Houghton (C; Manchester City), 6 Gilly Flaherty (Chelsea), 3 Alex Greenwood (Notts County); 10 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 4 Fara Williams (Liverpool), 8 Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal); 7 Fran Kirby (Chelsea), 9 Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns), 11 Demi Stokes (Manchester City).
Substitutes: 17 Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City) for Williams 68, 20 Toni Duggan (Manchester City) for Taylor 75, 19 Jess Clarke (Notts County) for Kirby 75
Substitutes not used: 12 Amy Turner (Notts County), 13 Carly Telford (Notts County), 14 Casey Stoney (Arsenal), 15 Jemma Rose (Arsenal), 16 Laura Bassett (Notts County), 18 Gemma Davison (Chelsea), 21 Rachael Laws (Sunderland), 22 Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), 23 Ellen White (Notts County).
Head coach: Mark Sampson
Referee: Esther Staubli (SUI)