Some 6.2m watched at the match's peak as Stuart Pearce's men - led by Ryan Giggs - draw 1-1 with Senegal at Old Trafford, after Craig Bellamy's early strike was cancelled out late on.
BBC One's full coverage, fronted by Gary Lineker, averaged 4.77m (24%) between 7pm and 10pm - a marked improvement on the squad's warm-up game last Friday.
Live coverage of the final stages of the Olympic torch relay secured 1.03m (9.6%) in the 5pm hour, while BBC Two's showing of the other games in the Men's Football interested 920k (9.7%) between 2.30pm and 7pm.
Meanwhile, ITV1's Olympics-themed Big Sports Quiz flopped opposite the football, logging just 1.73m (8%) from 9pm (+1: 174k/1%).
The Big Sports Quiz, hosted by Stephen Mulhern, was beaten by Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder: The Big Clear Out, which delivered 2.04m (9.5%) to Channel 4 (+1: 498k/2.8%).
The Hotel Inspector took 1.6m (7.4%) for Channel 5 (+1: 128k/0.7%), then 1.25m (7.2%) watched Big Brother. Meanwhile, Natural World was BBC Two's best-rated programme with 1.37m (6.5%) in the 8pm hour.
Overall, BBC One topped primetime with 23.8%, ahead of ITV1's 17.2% (+1: 0.9%), BBC Two's 5.8%, Channel 5's 5.5% (+1: 0.3%), and Channel 4's 5.2% (+1: 1.1%).
On the multichannels, Dynamo: Magician Impossible slumped to 733k (3.4%) on Watch at 9pm, but remained the night's second most-watched digital shows - a Family Guy repeat had 931k (8.2%) at 11.05pm.
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional