Young England stifle Neymar’s Brazil

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LONDON – Neymar and his Brazil colleagues were held to a frustrating goalless draw after a spirited display by a callow England team in Tuesday’s friendly match at Wembley Stadium.

Brazil coach Tite was able to name a first-choice starting XI, but despite the presence of Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho in the visitors’ line-up, they tested England goalkeeper Joe Hart only three times.

For Gareth Southgate’s England, who were once again without stars such as Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling through injury, it was a second successive encouraging 0-0 draw following Friday’s stalemate with Germany.

Liverpool, forward Dominic Solanke’s appearance as a late substitute made him the sixth England player to have made his debut over the two games.

It was a case of back to the drawing board for Tite.

Brazil has won 13 of their 17 games since he took charge in June 2016, but their failure to unsettle such green opponents raised questions about their prospects of a sixth World Cup triumph in Russia next year.

There was a samba band in the away fans’ section and the visitors’ forward forays drew shrill cheers from their yellow-shirted compatriots in the stands, but Brazil’s football was all style and little substance.

Jesus worked Hart with a near-post header from a Dani Alves cross 12 minutes in.

Yet for all their back-heels and bravado, Brazil made few inroads, with Neymar twice ballooning shots high into the seating behind Hart’s goal.

England worked Brazil goalkeeper Alisson only once before half-time and he had little trouble fielding a rasping drive from Marcus Rashford.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who had starred on his debut against Germany, would last only 34 minutes on his return to Wembley as injury obliged him to cede his place to Jesse Lingard.

Brazil created their first clear chance early in the second period when Neymar’s pass freed Coutinho, only for Hart to block with his legs.

Substitute Fernandinho went even closer with 14 minutes remaining, but after a surging run from halfway, his low 25-yard effort grazed the left-hand post.

A spate of substitutions had the effect of opening up space in the England half, but still, the hosts resisted.

Ashley Young marked his return after four years in the international wilderness by sliding in to block from Willian seconds after coming on, while Hart stood up well to thwart Roberto Firmino from Neymar’s pass.

Solanke, 20, might have claimed a famous winner at the death when Young’s deep cross from the left found him unmarked at the back post, but Alisson slid out bravely to block.

AFP

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