England youngsters rewarded brave selections against Brazil – Southgate

Neymar and Joe Gomez

Liverpool’s Joe Gomez, 20, made his first start for England

England manager Gareth Southgate said his young side rewarded him for his “brave” team selection in their hard-fought goalless draw with Brazil in the friendly at Wembley.

Southgate made five changes to the team that started the 0-0 draw with Germany on Friday, giving Liverpool defender Joe Gomez a full debut and introducing Dominic Solanke as a substitute for his first cap.

“It gives me plenty to think about,” Southgate told BBC Radio 5 live. “We are in the early stages of piecing this team together and it gives me huge heart.

“We took some brave decisions and, goodness me, the young players have rewarded me with some top performances.”

Brazil’s greater quality and assurance in possession meant England spent much of the game on the defensive.

It gave Gomez the opportunity to demonstrate his quality with an outstanding display as part of England’s three-man central defence, while goalkeeper Joe Hart made crucial second-half saves from Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho.

England found chances a rarity, although Liverpool striker Solanke almost made it a dream debut in the closing seconds, only to miscontrol at the far post.

Gareth Southgate and Dominic Solanke<!–

Southgate gave a first cap to substitute Dominic Solanke, 20, who has never started a Premier League match

Southgate’s side were second best for the most part but can take heart from emerging undefeated from two goalless draws with World Cup holders Germany and Brazil in this international break.

“In terms of heart, resilience and spirit it was up there with anything I’ve been involved in,” he added to ITV Sport.

“We couldn’t get hold of the ball and keep it. Tonight we just showed resilience, guts and some outstanding defending and I’m incredibly proud.”

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Phil Neville and an England fan clash over the quality of the Three Lions’ performance

England toil on tough night

England’s experimental line-up will have realised early on that this would be a long, hard slog against the multi-talented Brazilians with great strength in their starting line-up and on the bench.

And so it proved as, with Neymar showing sleight of foot and flashes of genius, they spent much of the 90 minutes at full stretch in defence, fighting for any semblance of possession and put under stress by Brazil’s pressing game.

It is to Southgate’s side’s credit they kept Brazil at arm’s length for much of the game, aided by some uncharacteristically wayward shooting from the visitors.

Brazil’s comfort in possession and natural skill gave England’s unfamiliar-looking line-up a taste of the sort of quality they will be confronted with in Russia next summer – and while it was, in parts, a sobering experience it was also an invaluable lesson.

Gomez and Rashford shine for England

This was a learning curve for England’s team – and especially the younger element Southgate is so keen to test as he formulates his World Cup plans.

And in Liverpool’s Gomez and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, he had two emerging talents who did themselves great credit in what was, for England at least, a largely attritional night at Wembley.

Marcus Rashford<!–

Marcus Rashford started against Brazil, after playing the last 30 minutes against Germany

Gomez got his chance with Gary Cahill sidelined and took it superbly with an assured performance as part of a three-man defence Southgate now looks certain to use at the World Cup.

The 20-year-old started life as a central defender at Charlton Athletic and even though he has been used on the right side of defence by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp he slipped back into his old routine with real aplomb, showing his awareness with a series of crucial interceptions.

Southgate is still examining all options in England’s central defensive area and Gomez staked an impressive claim here.

Rashford showed the fearless streak Southgate so admires with his constant willingness to run at Brazil’s defence with pace, even demonstrating on occasion footwork that would not have been out of place from members of England’s illustrious opposition.

Brazil illuminate Wembley

Brazil may not have brought goals to Wembley but they brought atmosphere, colour and glimpses of skill that always makes them welcome visitors.

From the Samba band and colourfully-clad dancers that made a lap of Wembley before kick-off – even prompting some neat moves from one or two Brazilian journalists – to the roars of delight every time Neymar got on the ball, it was still a night that contained entertainment despite the increasingly low-key fare on the pitch.

Gabriel Jesus and Joe Hart<!–

Gabriel Jesus could not get past Joe Hart, who kept England’s first clean sheet against Brazil since a 2-0 win in Rio in 1984

Brazil provided a different test from Germany and gave England lessons Southgate will store before he gets his squad together again for friendlies against the Netherlands in Amsterdam and at home to Italy in March.

Man of the match – Joe Gomez

Joe Gomez and Neymar<!–

Analysis – a high-quality test for Brazil

Tim Vickery, South American football expert

It’s a good time to have a disappointment. It was a high-quality test for Brazil, the first time they have played against European opposition in this cycle.

They have swept through a poor qualifying group but trying to break down the English defence proved much harder. From a Brazilian point of view it looked like a potential knockout match in the World Cup, where the opponents are happy to sit back,

England nearly won the game in the space behind Marcelo so Brazil have a few things to dwell on.

It wasn’t Neymar’s greatest game but Brazil already knew that their hardest games will be against the best western European teams in next year’s World Cup.

Hart matches Seaman – the key stats

  • England have picked up just one victory in their past 11 internationals against Brazil (D6 L4).
  • Southgate has failed to win any of his five friendlies as England manager (D3 L2) but has won seven of his nine competitive matches (D2).
  • England have drawn consecutive 0-0 games at home for the first time since October 1998.
  • This was the first 0-0 between England and Brazil since June 1977.
  • Solanke became the 14th player to make his England debut under Southgate.
  • Hart made his 75th appearance for England, just the third goalkeeper to reach this total after David Seaman (75) and Peter Shilton (125).
  • Hart became the first England goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet against Brazil since Shilton in June 1984.

Live Text

Match ends, England 0, Brazil 0.

Second Half ends, England 0, Brazil 0.

Foul by Dani Alves (Brazil).

Danny Rose (England) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Neymar (Brazil) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

Substitution, England. Danny Rose replaces Jake Livermore.

Attempt saved. Dominic Solanke (England) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt missed. Paulinho (Brazil) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Willian with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Brazil. Conceded by Joe Hart.

Attempt saved. Paulinho (Brazil) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Neymar.

Offside, Brazil. Marcelo tries a through ball, but Willian is caught offside.

Corner, Brazil. Conceded by Ashley Young.

Attempt blocked. Willian (Brazil) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Neymar.

Substitution, England. Ashley Young replaces Ryan Bertrand.

Attempt missed. Eric Dier (England) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right from a direct free kick.

Foul by Casemiro (Brazil).

Dominic Solanke (England) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Fernandinho (Brazil) hits the left post with a right footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Casemiro.

Substitution, Brazil. Roberto Firmino replaces Gabriel Jesus.

Substitution, England. Tammy Abraham replaces Marcus Rashford.

Substitution, England. Dominic Solanke replaces Jamie Vardy.

Foul by Neymar (Brazil).

Joseph Gomez (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Willian (Brazil) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Ryan Bertrand (England).

Neymar (Brazil) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Joseph Gomez (England).

Substitution, Brazil. Fernandinho replaces Renato Augusto.

Substitution, Brazil. Willian replaces Philippe Coutinho.

Foul by Gabriel Jesus (Brazil).

Joseph Gomez (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt blocked. Kyle Walker (England) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jesse Lingard.

Foul by Gabriel Jesus (Brazil).

Jesse Lingard (England) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Renato Augusto (Brazil).

Kyle Walker (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, England. Joe Hart tries a through ball, but Jamie Vardy is caught offside.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Gabriel Jesus (Brazil) because of an injury.

Offside, Brazil. Marcelo tries a through ball, but Philippe Coutinho is caught offside.

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