Another top side tamed by young Lions
ENGLAND stifled superior opponents for the second time in under a week as Brazil followed Germany in a Wembley stalemate.
Gareth Southgate’s long-term mission is to win hearts and minds, if not World Cups, with his freshfaced Three Lions.
And if two 0-0 draws in five days represents a slow start then it might easily have been worse given the calibre of the opposition.
Brazil arrived at full strength and with a formidable run of form behind them. But while they dominated possession, their vaunted front three of Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus laboured without reward.
Liverpool’s Dominic Solanke had a late chance to end England’s 2017 calendar with a stunning debut winner, and it was also a night on which the likes of Joe Hart, Joe Gomez and Kyle Walker earned plenty of credit for keeping a clean sheet under pressure.
Gomez was named man of the match for his composed performance at the back, the third rookie in as many games after Harry Winks and Ruben LoftusCheek to elbow his way into Southgate’s plans for Russia 2018.
Brazil dominated the ball throughout the first half, rolling it across the field and probing for gaps without ever fully asserting themselves on England.
Neymar’s first half-dozen touches whipped the crowd into a fervour but the electricity waned as it became apparent each contribution would not be a magical one.
There were flashes of brilliance from the world’s most expensive player, nutmegging Jake Livermore almost as an after-thought and piercing the defence with an outside-of-the-boot chip that lost none of its charm when recipient Jesus was flagged offside.
But there were also a couple of wayward punts into the stand and occasional wander into dead ends.
Loftus-Cheek was attempting to double down on his name-making debut against Germany but lasted little more than half an hour thanks to an early knock.
Marcus Rashford remained England’s likeliest game-changer, but despite late chances for both sides, Joe Hart’s clean sheet never looked in any serious danger.
John Stones beats Dani Alves in the air