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