Daniel Tay­lor

The Guardian - Sport - - Football International Friendlies -

The funny thing is that un­til last week it had been seven years since Eng­land’s last goal­less draw at Wem­b­ley, go­ing all the way back to a Euro 2012 qual­i­fier against Mon­tene­gro when Fabio Capello was in charge. They have now had two in the space of four days but that is not nec­es­sar­ily such a bad thing when the op­po­si­tion both times have been the high­est-placed teams in Fifa’s world rank­ings.

Gareth South­gate can cer­tainly be en­cour­aged by suc­ces­sive clean sheets against, first, Ger­many and now a Brazil side that thinks of it­self as foot­ball roy­alty and will also go to the World Cup with re­al­is­tic am­bi­tions of win­ning the tro­phy. Eng­land have man­aged two cred­itable re­sults while play­ing ex­per­i­men­tal sides. Joe Gomez was named as the man of the match for this one and Do­minic Solanke, a sec­ond-half sub­sti­tute, will cer­tainly re­mem­ber the night he won his first cap. Solanke came on with Tammy Abra­ham af­ter 75 min­utes, mean­ing South­gate has given half a dozen play­ers their Eng­land de­buts over the course of these two fix­tures.

How many of those play­ers will still be in­volved when Eng­land re­con­vene in March, with fix­tures ar­ranged against Hol­land and Italy, re­mains to be seen but South­gate is en­ti­tled to think it has been a use­ful ex­er­cise, par­tic­u­larly bear­ing in mind the na­ture of the line-up.

Un­like Ger­many’s pol­icy of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion last Fri­day, this was the strong­est team avail­able to Tite, the Brazil­ian coach. For long, dif­fi­cult spells Eng­land were re­minded why it will be so im­per­a­tive to keep the ball against the best teams in the World Cup, namely be­cause once it is given away it can be a long time be­fore it comes back. That in it­self made this a rar­ity at Wem­b­ley: an Eng­land game where the op­po­si­tion dom­i­nated pos­ses­sion, with the more re­fined touches and the swag­ger of a side that knows they are some­thing special.

South­gate was right when he said it made sense to in­vite Brazil to Wem­b­ley, tak­ing into ac­count the kind of chal­lenges his team might en­counter in Rus­sia next sum­mer, but it did also show the im­bal­ance of tal­ent that ex­plains why Eng­land

Eng­land 3-4-1-2

Hart; Gomez, Stones, Maguire; Walker, Dier, Liver­more■ (Rose, 90), Ber­trand (Young, 80); Lof­tus-Cheek (Lin­gard, 35); Vardy (Solanke, 75), Rash­ford (Abra­ham, 75).

Subs not used

Pick­ford, Gunn, Trip­pier, Cahill, Keane, Cork, Cook.

Ref­eree A Ribeiro (Por)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.