Galaxy midfielder David Beckham started and played the entire game for England on Wednesday, creating at least three clear scoring chances but ultimately leaving Wembley Stadium disappointed after Germany came from behind to earn a 2-1 victory in front of a near-sellout crowd of 86,133.
The match was one of 45 internationals played Wednesday, most of them friendly games, although there were also a handful of Euro 2008 qualifiers.
England got off to a strong start, taking the lead in the ninth minute when teenage defender Micah Richards overlapped down the right, beat two defenders and fed the ball for midfielder Frank Lampard to blast into the German net.
An error by England goalkeeper Paul Robinson gifted the Germans the tying goal in the 26th minute when he failed to turn a deep cross by Bernd Schneider over the crossbar. The ball fell instead to onrushing striker Kevin Kuranyi, who easily tapped in his 19th goal for Germany.
Five minutes before halftime, a venomous shot from 25 yards by defender Christian Pander, who was making his national team debut, gave Robinson no chance as Germany went ahead, 2-1.
In the second 45 minutes, Beckham twice set up teammates for what could have been the tying and winning goals.
His pinpoint pass to Kieron Dyer saw the forward squander the opportunity by shooting wide. Later, Beckham floated a corner kick in from the right that John Terry headed sharply toward the net only to see a defender clear the ball off the goal line.
In the first half, a Beckham free kick was flicked on by striker Alan Smith, with the ball passing agonizingly wide of the right post.
Germany Coach Joachim Loew said limiting Beckham's chances was key to the victory.
"England only got a few free kicks," Loew said. "That's the biggest danger with England, the free kicks from Beckham."
Beckham's Galaxy teammate, Landon Donovan, also was on the losing side Wednesday as the United States was beaten, 1-0, by Sweden on a 56th-minute goal by Kim Kallstrom at the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg.
It was the Americans' fourth consecutive loss, the first time that has happened in a decade.
Rival Mexico fared no better, losing, 1-0, to Colombia in Denver on an excellent 53rd-minute goal by Jaime Castrillon in a game that saw New Mexico-born Edgar Castillo make his debut for Mexico.
In Budapest, world champion Italy's final preparatory match before playing France next month in a crucial Euro 2008 qualifier resulted in a surprising 3-1 loss to Hungary.
"These things happen," Italy Coach Roberto Donadoni said. "All in all, it's not a big deal."
Italian fans are likely to take a different view, especially with France having warmed up with a 1-0 victory over Slovakia, courtesy of a Thierry Henry goal in Trnava.
Nor are Argentine supporters likely to be pleased with the comments of their national coach, Alfio Basile, who dismissed Argentina's 2-1 loss to Norway in Oslo as just one of those things.
"We are on our way to build a team before the World Cup qualifiers [starting in October] and we weren't going specifically for results," Basile said. "That's not important right now."
Two goals by Norwegian striker John Carew provided the victory, while Norway's defense managed to keep Argentina's Lionel Messi in check.
Argentina was coming off a 3-0 loss to Brazil in the final of the Copa America in Venezuela last month, and the Brazilians showed once again Wednesday why they are ranked No. 1 in the world.
Ronaldinho, left on the bench at the start along with teammate Kaka after both had opted to skip the Copa America, came on in the second half to create one goal and score another as Brazil defeated Algeria, 2-0, in Montpellier, France.
The Barcelona star's corner kick was headed powerfully into the net by Maicon just after the hour mark, and Ronaldinho made sure of the victory by slamming home the rebound of a Diego shot nine minutes from the end.
Brazil is 12-2-3 under Coach Dunga, its only losses in the last year being to Portugal and Mexico. Its next games are against the U.S. in Chicago on Sept. 9 and Mexico in Foxborough, Mass., on Sept. 12.
South Africa, which will play host to the 2010 World Cup, was shut out, 1-0, by Scotland in Aberdeen.
In Euro 2008 qualifying play Wednesday, winger Cristiano Ronaldo saved Portugal from an embarrassing loss when he scored on a fine individual effort to earn a 1-1 tie with Armenia in Yerevan.
Jones reported from Los Angeles.