South­gate proud as England young­sters keep Brazil at bay

Daily News - - SPORT - MARTYN HER­MAN

LON­DON: Gareth South­gate ex­pressed pride in England’s young de­fence as his side drew 0-0 with Brazil in a friendly yes­ter­day, four days af­ter a sim­i­lar stale­mate against world cham­pi­ons Germany.

Even more sat­is­fy­ing for man­ager South­gate was the fact that in­juries and with­drawals meant he was with­out sev­eral first-choice play­ers for the dou­ble-header against the na­tions stand­ing first and sec­ond in Fifa’s world rank­ings.

Yes­ter­day he fielded a three­man de­fence with Manch­ester City’s 23-year-old John Stones flanked by Liver­pool’s 20-year-old Joe Gomez, given a first start af­ter a sub­sti­tute ap­pear­ance against Germany, and Le­ices­ter City’s Harry Maguire, 24.

Brazil’s at­tack­ing op­tions in­cluded Ney­mar, the world’s most ex­pen­sive player, Gabriel Je­sus and Philippe Coutinho, yet the vis­i­tors were kept safely at arm’s length.

England of­fered far less go­ing for­ward than they did against Germany but Brazil never carved them open and were re­stricted to some late chances at Wem­b­ley.

“I’m more proud tonight than I was against Germany,” South­gate said af­ter England kept a clean sheet against Brazil for the first time in their last 11 meet­ings.

“We have found so many pos­i­tives be­cause it won’t get much tougher than it was for them (England’s play­ers) tonight. They will gain huge con­fi­dence from tonight.

England con­ceded only three goals in qual­i­fy­ing for next year’s World Cup but Germany and five-times world cham­pi­ons Brazil were a ma­jor step up in the qual­ity of op­po­si­tion.

“We have come through with two clean sheets and the sys­tem has worked well,” South­gate said. “We lim­ited both teams to very few clearcut chances. When you put young play­ers in you could get beaten by four and then you are ques­tion­ing the de­ci­sion.

“But they stepped up in the two matches.”

Brazil had won 13 of the 16 matches they had played since Tite be­came coach but they found England a tough nut to crack.

“They were very tight at the back,” sub­sti­tute Fer­nand­inho said.

“It was hard mak­ing chances in the first half.

“They were very well set up and that made it dif­fi­cult for us. Both teams were well pre­pared and we man­aged to cre­ate some chances in the sec­ond half, while they had prac­ti­cally none.” – Reuters

PIC­TURE: EPA

UP FOR CHAL­LENGE: England’s John Stones, left, vies for the ball with Brazil’s Gabriel Je­sus dur­ing yes­ter­day’s in­ter­na­tional friendly at Wem­b­ley.

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