Gareth Southgate’s England made it successive home goalless draws last night against the number one and two FIFA Ranked Nations against a strong Brazil side in the first ever Bobby Moore Fund International.
But, it was another night of International Football that far from caught the eye in West London as the two teams played out their final fixtures of the calendar year with an entourage of missed chances.
From the start at Wembley Stadium, Southgate decided on five changes from Friday night’s 0-0 draw with World Champions Germany.
In goal, Joe Hart came back in for Jordan Pickford for his 75th England cap, whilst Kyle Walker, Joe Gomez, and Ryan Bertrand replaced Kieran Trippier, Manchester United man, Phil Jones, and Danny Rose, in addition to Marcus Rashford taking the place of fellow youngster Tammy Abraham.
Meanwhile, Adenor Leonardo Bacchi made six alterations after his side’s admirable 1-3 friendly victory in Japan last week.
The switches started in defence with Skipper Dani Alves, Marquinhos and Miranda coming in for Danilo, Thiago Silva, and Jemerson De Jesus Nascimento, as Giuliano and Fernandinho were ousted in favour of Paulinho and Augusto, the final change saw Liverpool attacker Philippe Coutinho take the place of his Premier League comrade Willian.
On a night dedicated to raising awareness of Bowel Cancer, the cruel disease that took England’s greatest Football son, both Nations would put pressure on early.
The hosts first, as Rashford the United star tested Alisson Ramses Becker in the Brazilian goal with a low effort that was dealt with well by the keeper.
Former Spurs midfielder Paulinho then flashed an effort from range high and wide to the delight of the Wembley crowd and he was followed by the World’s most expensive player in Neymar, who cut in from the right with a shot that wouldn’t have gone in if four goals were stacked up on top of England’s one.
But, then a rare moment of quality from the away Nation as the PSG man was flicked in behind by Coutinho, but his weak cross trundled through to Hart on the night he equalled David Seaman in Three Lions appearances, in a first-half that was starved of goalmouth action.
As the Brazilians settled into the tie more, they created more, none more than early in the second period however as Neymar dribbled superbly to play Coutinho through as Hart the Hammer stood tall to keep his scuffed shot out.
The final 15 minutes of the affair would yield the most action and it was all started off by Manchester City’s Fernandinho’s burst through on the England defence and unlucky shot that did well not to bury in the bottom corner, instead striking the post.
It was then the turn of Southgate’s men to threaten with Captain Eric Dier flashing a free-kick just wide, but like usual, Tite’s side looked the more likely team as substitute Willian was denied by the block of Ashley Young when he was played in.
And Paulinho’s best moment of the match, forcing a save from the stern Hart, this time using his chest to beat the ball out for a corner.
There would be time for one more flurry from The Three Lions with what was almost a very special debut moment for Dom Solanke when a Young delivery made it all the way to him at the far post, Allison doing well to stop the shot coming in.
In the third and final minute of second-half added time, Solanke broke and found Walker, but the Citizens just couldn’t pick out Abraham with his low delivery and that meant that the encounter finished without a goal.
Although it was a drab affair to forget for many, it had been another learning curve for a youthful England side who had earned two respectable results to finish the year on a high, next up will be a friendly trip to Holland in March of next year.
Meanwhile, Tite will be feeling happy after his team’s first two Russia 2018 warm-ups and hoping for more success next spring when they travel to Germany as the World Cup run-in truly begins.