Germany looked to have spoiled a promising England display with goals either side of the interval – Toni Kroos’ long-range shot deceiving keeper Jack Butland, who was then carried off injured, before Mario Gomez headed past his deputy Fraser Forster.
England, with 19-year-old Dele Alli magnificent, responded in style through Harry Kane’s low finish and Jamie Vardy’s first international goal, an audacious 74th-minute flick at the near post from Nathaniel Clyne’s cross.
A draw would have done a makeshift England side credit but, after Alli missed an easy chance, his Spurs team-mate Eric Dier powered home an injury-time header from Jordan Henderson’s corner.
It may only have been a friendly, but this was the perfect result and morale-booster for Hodgson and England as they put their plans in place for Euro 2016 in France this summer.
Alli’s touch of class
Alli claimed many pre-match headlines as the 19-year-old Spurs midfielder, winning only his fifth cap, drew comparisons with the great former England captain Bryan Robson for his all-action style in midfield.
It was a label that came with caution attached to one so young but Alli lived up to the hype here with a performance that made him the game’s outstanding player.
Alli has a natural link with his Spurs team-mate Kane that will bring riches to club and country over the years but it was his work in all areas of the pitch that will have surely made him a certain Euro 2016 starter.
There will be marks off for a bad late miss, after he was set up by Vardy, but his day will come and he was only denied goals by two fine saves from Germany keeper Manuel Neuer.
If they are good enough, they are old enough – and Alli is good enough.
The game changers
Hodgson has often been portrayed as a manager who uses conservatism as his natural default position – but that mode of operation has surely been taken out of his hands by the talent he has at his disposal.
Reliant for so long on Wayne Rooney, the new generation stepped forward here to increase the sense that England might be on the brink of a bright new era.
Kane is a natural goalscorer for club and country and has a provider and partner in Alli, while Vardy was devastating off the bench, showing pace to burn and a scoring touch.
There is the maverick brilliance of Ross Barkley to call upon and the spirit shown here, when England could easily have sagged at 2-0 down, proved Hodgson has some serious raw materials to work with.
England’s defensive worries linger
England’s attacking play carried real excitement and threat in the shape of Kane, the assistance of Alli and the pace and finishing of Vardy when he came on as substitute.
It was an old flaw that will have worried Hodgson, however, and left him with major concerns as he puts his final plans into place for Euro 2016.
An experimental Germany side were nowhere near their best but they were still able to penetrate England’s rearguard too easily on the occasions they did put moves together.
England’s two full-back slots are still up for grabs and Hodgson needs Everton’s John Stones to rediscover his brilliant form of several months ago to allow him to forge a partnership with Chris Smalling in central defence.
Cahill, as he did at the World Cup in Brazil, falls short at the very highest level despite being a solid Premier League defender and risks being exposed again if England get to the sharp end of Euro 2016.