Football: Defoe defies Samba rhythm

England Schoolboys 0 Brazil Schoolboys 0 Attendance: 51,000
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NO, there wasn't a budding Pele among the Brazilian schoolboys, nor did there seem to be another Michael Owen in an England shirt - the Liverpool striker scored the winner in the last match between the countries in 1995.

Believe it or not, the Brazilians have yet to score against England at this level. But the boys in the famous yellow jerseys did contrive a draw with 10 men for most of the second half, after the goalkeeper Rubinho was sent-off for handling outside his area.

The visitors did come close to getting that first-ever score when Rhys Evans in the England goal misjudged a cross. His feeble punch only carried as far as Wendel, who returned the ball with interest just under his crossbar. Fortunately for the home side, Peter Clarke managed to head it on to the woodwork before it was scrambled clear. It was Wendel in the famous No 10 shirt who in only the second minute produced a delicious flick to open the road to goal for Carlo Augusto, who wasted the chance with a wild shot. But, those two moments aside, Wendel flattered to deceive and contributed very little else to the match. Anyone among the 50,000-strong crowd expecting to pick up on a spot of Brazilian magic was to be disappointed.

England also had their share of bad luck in the first half when Jermain Defoe's shot was deflected beyond Rubinho, only for the ball to rebound off the foot of the right-hand post.

With all of the England team already committed to Premiership and Nationwide clubs, it was no surprise that, especially in defence, they displayed an order and discipline that smothered most of the Brazilian threat. It would have taken a real flash of Samba magic to break it down and none was available.

In attack the tall, strong Jay Boothroyd, already promised to Arsenal, was an awkward threat with a turn of speed that provided most of the England menace. Defoe was a busy nuisance alongside Boothroyd's more intimidating presence, and when Matt Hamshaw began to maraud into the open spaces that developed down the Brazilian left flank late in the game, England enjoyed a real dominance.

But a goal wouldn't come and the substitution of Boothroyd 15 minutes from time, in favour of the fresh legs of the Ipswich prodigy Richard Logan, must have had the Brazilian defenders heaving a sigh of relief. The substitutions imposed on Brazil by Rubinho's sending-off saw the introduction of Robson, whose presence added some much-needed purpose to Brazil's attack. A great ball to another substitute, Maua, five minutes from the end demanded quick thinking and action by Evans before the danger was cleared.

The number of youngsters who make the great leap from schoolboy international level to the real thing is not encouraging. Many are called but few are taken, although in recent years the likes of Michael Owen, Garry Flitcroft, Lee Clark and Jamie Redknapp have managed it. Perhaps there was a face for the future at Wembley yesterday.

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