Monday 22 October 2018

Southgate's young cubs keep Brazil's samba band quiet

England 0 Brazil 0

England’s Tammy Abraham tussels with Brazil’s Casemiro. Photo: Dylan Martinez/Reuters
England’s Tammy Abraham tussels with Brazil’s Casemiro. Photo: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Sam Walllace

The big picture for Gareth Southgate is that over two games against the highest-ranked football nations in the world he gave out six debuts to young Englishmen, who might at times have found themselves schooled by the superstars of Germany and Brazil - but were not beaten.

The year closes on England with another scoreless draw this time against Neymar and his gifted Brazilian team-mates, a side who, like Germany, will most certainly be challenging in Russia to end the summer as world champions.

That moment might have come too early for Southgate's new generation but there can be no question that he is forging ahead with them nonetheless with a sixth debut of this international break for Liverpool's Dominic Solanke, a second-half substitute.

The English saw little of the ball but demonstrated some qualities nonetheless, with John Stones the pick of the bunch, Joe Gomez the fans' man of the match and Marcus Rashford was the most effective attacker and if nothing else then the home team saw close up the standards that will be required of them.

England’s Jesse Lingard in action with Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters
England’s Jesse Lingard in action with Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters

Brazil dominated the ball throughout the first half, with Neymar's first half-dozen touches whipping the crowd into a fervour.

Flashes

There were flashes of brilliance from the world's most expensive player, nutmegging Jake Livermore and piercing the defence with an outside-of-the-boot chip.

England were forced deep for the most part but invited pressure with their admirable insistence on playing from the back.

Neither keeper was over-worked, Joe Hart keeping out a Gabriel Jesus header and Alisson fully behind a Marcus Rashford drive. England's best counter-attack failed even to yield a shot, Jamie Vardy heading Ryan Bertrand's cross back towards Rashford, who could not quite find an angle.

Brazil nudged the accelerator in the second half and as the game entered its final 15 minutes a winner suddenly appeared imminent. First Fernandinho sent a searing drive just wide, then Eric Dier bent an inviting free-kick around the wall and post.

Chelsea's Willian made his presence felt from the bench and had just pulled the trigger when Ashley Young - on for his first cap in over four years - hurled himself in the line of fire.

Hart made an equally important stop in the 84th minute from Paulinho's hard-hit effort. With seconds remaining, the prospect of a home win fleetingly reared its head. Young bent a teasing cross to the far post and when the ball broke to Solanke he could not quite muster a finish from close range.

It would have been a reward too far for a team who have at least proved their mettle.

Irish Independent

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