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Retiring Podolski's thunderbolt sinks England in Dortmund friendly

Lukas Podolski marked his 130th and final appearance for Germany with a stunning strike that secured a 1-0 friendly win over England. It was a fitting finale for one of the most popular players of his generation.

Around 60,000 fans turned out in Dortmund to witness Podolski’s swansong and he made a brief farewell speech on the pitch before leading the team as captain for the first time.

Only Lothar Matthäus (150) and Miroslav Klose (137) have more caps, while Podolski’s 49 goals put him fourth on the list of all-time top scorers behind Klose (71), Gerd Müller (68) and Joachim Streich (59).

England were not intimidated by the occasion and made much the brighter start, clearly under orders from coach Gareth Southgate to press hard and attack whenever possible.

Germany were missing a host of regulars, including Thomas Müller, who started on the bench, and the absent Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Jerome Boateng and Julian Draxler.

England forward Jamie Vardy was giving the home defense plenty of problems but it was midfielder Adam Lallana who almost fired the visitors ahead on 31 minutes.

Picking the ball up near the halfway line, he surged down the left into the penalty area, beat Marc Andre ter Stegen with a low shot but saw the ball rebound off the far post.

Stunning effort

Podolski had Germany’s first shot six minutes later but blasted his effort well over the crossbar.

England should have been ahead four minutes before the break.

Joshua Kimmich surrendered possession and Vardy fed Dele Ali, unmarked on the right of the penalty area. He steadied himself but drove his shot straight at Ter Stegen and the ball ricocheted away to safety.

Both sides had chances early in the second period before Podolski showed what Germany will be missing with a stunning 69th-minute effort.

Picking up a layoff from substitute André Schürrle, he turned and unleashed a thunderous left-foot strike from 20 metres that flew past England goalkeeper Joe Hart into the top corner.

The 31-year-old was given a thoroughly deserved ovation when he was replaced by Sebastian Rudy with six minutes left and will continue his club career in Japan next season.

He took an extended lap of the stadium after the final whistle, signing autographs and taking selfies with fans.

Like a film

"Today was like a film," Podolski said in an interview with German television. "We won 1-0 and I got the goal," the forward added. "I have often been able to rely on my left foot and we saw that again today. It was a great way to say goodbye and a great atmosphere."

Germany’s next outing is a World Cup 2018 qualifier away to Azerbaijan on Sunday. The world champions top Group C with a perfect 12 points.

England, meanwhile, head back to London to play a qualifier at home to Lithuania, also on Sunday. They lead Group F on 10 points.

Relive all the action here:

International friendly live: Germany vs. England

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