Football: Gerrard stands firm on path to semis

Click to follow
Brazil Under-21 . . .0

England Under-21. . .0

GRAHAM TAYLOR'S England senior side will do well to emulate this result, if less so the performance in their own meeting with Brazil in the US Cup tomorrow.

The first leg of the weekend double-header did not augur well for the seniors, but at least Lawrie McMenemy's boys, though played off the field for much of the game, had enough spirit to hang on for the point which guaranteed them a match with the old enemy, Scotland, in tomorrow's semi-finals of the Toulon Under-21 tournament. France play Portugal, the holders, in the other semi.

It was a backs-to-the-wall job as Brazil, giving away two years in experience to England, suddenly recaptured the form which won this same group of players the World Youth Championship in Australia in March.

Had they displayed a quality of finishing in keeping with their tradition, England would have been staring at their first defeat in eight matches. It was not all down to Brazil, however. To England's rescue came Paul Gerrard, the Oldham Athletic goalkeeper whose blunder in the previous game had put England's progress in this competition in doubt.

Wearing heavy black strapping on knees that suffer from dislocation problems, Gerrard stood up well to the kind of punishment he faces week in, week out at Boundary Park. Either side of half-time he made excellent stops, first going full length to deny Wagner and then pulling off a distinctive reaction save to frustrate Savio. He could have known little, though, about a pile-driver from Yan which, taking the faintest of deflections, veered viciously over his crossbar.

England found it difficult enough just to win possession and when they did their enterprise was sadly lacking. Indeed, they could throw only one shot worthy of the name and that was when Jamie Redknapp found Lee Clark with a flicked volley of which any Brazilian would have been proud, but the Newcastle winger shot wide from an acute angle.

McMenemy said afterwards: 'They're a good passing team and that's what we're trying to be. I thought our lack of experience of tournament football showed.'

BRAZIL: Marcos Roberto (Palmeiras); Bruno (Vasco do Gama), Argel (Internacional), Juarez (Portuguesa), Hermes (Corinthians), Wagner (Juventos), Fernando (Juventos), Perreira (Sao Paulo), Magrio (Palmeiras), Yan (Vasco do Gama), Savio (Flamengo). Substitutes: Fabio (Corinthians) for Fernando, 57; Leandro (Atletico Minerio) for Savio, 72.

ENGLAND: Gerrard (Oldham Athletic); Ardley (Wimbledon), Small (Aston Villa), Hall (Southampton), Sutton (Norwich City), Awford (Portsmouth), Clark (Newcastle United), Redknapp (Liverpool), Flitcroft (Manchester City), Sheron (Manchester City), Anderton (Tottenham Hotspur). Substitute: Oakes (Luton Town) for Sheron, 74.

Comments