Brazil 2 England 2 World Cup friendly match report: Wayne Rooney and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain find spirit at the Maracana to inspire a Rio return

England improve after lacklustre first half showing

The Maracana Stadium

This was not, from England, the proverbial joga bonito for much of Sunday's game, in fact at times – let’s be honest - they were clinging on for dear life, but two goals and a draw at the Maracana is no bad result when the Brazilians are plain desperate to win.

Roy Hodgson’s team flew out of Rio de Janeiro hoping that they would be back next summer when the real business begins and while that job is very far from being complete, they showed a glimmer of the bloody-mindedness that might just see them through World Cup qualification.

At times they were denied the ball in the same manner that any tourists brave enough to challenge the local footballers on the Copacabana find themselves. The Brazilians passed fluently and pressed frantically. Hodgson’s players struggled to prise possession away and when they did they could hardly put together a sequence of passes worthy of the name.

But this is very far from a great Brazil team and the ferocity with which they approached the game in the first half could not be sustained. On the break in the second half, England were direct and both goals came when they ran at their opponents and put them under pressure. It might be generations until an English team can out-pass a Brazilian side. It might never happen. But there are other ways to compete.

Joe Hart was England’s outstanding player and kept them in the game in the first half. In the last 20 minutes, two excellent goals came from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a substitute, and Wayne Rooney who had led the line on his own in often unpromising circumstances. When they took the lead with 13 minutes remaining, the home crowd could scarcely believe it.

It will have been encouraging for Hodgson to see Rooney run confidently at the Brazil defence and strike a curling shot that found the top corner of Julio Cesar’s goal, via what looked like a deflection off the substitute Fernando. Goodness knows, he has been waiting for a moment like that in a bleak end to the season.

The first England goal was a great moment for young Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose father Mark Chamberlain played in the last England game at the stadium in June 1984 and was the first man to celebrate with John Barnes after his famous goal. For Hodgson it turned into good way to sign off after a difficult season. He is unbeaten against Brazil in two games and it was his opposite number Luiz Felipe Scolari who found himself booed for his substitutions.

This is not the most promising Brazil team ever assembled with a World Cup finals in one year’s time. Considering it is the first one on home soil since 1950, there is a very real chance that they could be in trouble. There were flashes from Neymar, the home team’s great hope but the man who dominates the billboards around Rio de Janeiro was not even his team’s best player.

After the grinding attempt to break down the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday, this was very hot and very hard work and you could hardly deny that in the first half at least, that England stumbled through thanks largely to the work of Hart, who was magnificent. They could not stop Brazil’s possession and they expended a lot of energy discovering that reality.

The Brazilian team pressed them very high up the pitch and it proved beyond Hodgson’s players to move the ball quickly enough or with sufficient invention to get around them. In the second half that changed and as the Brazilians themselves slowed down so the chances opened up for England. Before the break, a chance for Walcott aside, they hardly had a sight of the Brazil goal.

With a central midfield trio of Phil Jones, Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard, England had enough manpower in the middle of midfield, they just could not prevent Brazil from stretching them on both sides of the pitch and, when the ball was at Neymar’s feet, through the middle too.

Hart was superb, his first major save on 20 minutes when Glen Johnson could not get his clearance away at the back post and Neymar had a good chance. The first half was a struggle for Johnson who had Hulk on his case. He managed to clear a cross from Oscar ran dangerously across the England goal.

The home team deserved that goal before the break, none more so than when Luis Felipe and Neymar put Hulk in down their left and forced a save from Hart who was quick to get up again and block the follow-up from Neymar. When he is on this kind of form, with the shots coming thick and fast, the Manchester City goalkeeper is such a confident presence.

At the other end, for Rooney it was lung-busting, thankless stuff and his accidental exchange with Walcott that opened up a chance was about as good as it got for him. Leighton Baines, given a start by Hodgson, was replaced by Ashley Cole on 31 minutes with what looked like a blow to his hip sustained early in the game. Jones was limping for some of it after a tackle on Luis Felipe. England’s only chance of the first half came when Johnson played in Walcott whose shot was saved by Cesar.

After half-time Scolari made three substitutions before the goal finally came for Brazil, the third of which – Lucas Moura on for Oscar – was booed by the home fans. It was another substitute, Hernanes, of Lazio who made the goal. His curling shot from the left clipped Hart’s post and when it came down, the striker Fred was there to slip the ball in.

At that point, England might have crumbled but to their credit  they looked a bit stronger. The Brazilians’ frantic pressing game had abated somewhat and while the ball would not quite stick when it came to Walcott, there was at least a degree of good possession for the away team. Gary Cahill had a header from a corner that was just wide. James Milner’s shot on target was also deflected wide of the goal.

Then came the big moment for Oxlade-Chamberlain. He had come on for Johnson just after the hour and was played in the centre while Jones switched to right-back. England gained possession outside the Brazil area and finally it was Rooney who teed up the Arsenal man for a low, sweetly-struck drive past Cesar.

Next came Rooney’s goal. Good work by Milner on the left created the possession deep in the Brazil half and David Luiz backed off when Rooney ran at goal. When his shot dropped into Cesar’s net it prompted disbelief in the Maracana that they might just lose this game. They were desperate.

It would have been hard on the Brazilians to lose this game but they came close. Just six minute of regulation time remained when Lucas Moura crossed from the right and Paulinho, granted a little too much space, scored with a crisp volley. Once again, the Brazilians came at England but there was a degree of confidence back in Hodgson’s side. It will come in useful in  September and October.

Brazil (4-3-3): Julio Cesar; Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Filipe Luis; Gustavo, Paulinho, Oscar; Hulk, Fred, Neymar.

Substitutes BRA: Marcelo/Felipe Luis ht, Hernanes/Gustavo ht, Oscar/Moura 56, Fernando/Hulk 76, Damiao/Fred 80, Paulinho/Bernard 84. Not used: Dante, Cavalieri (gk), Jadson, Jean, Jefferson (gk), Damiao, Lucas, Rever.

 

England (4-1-4-1): Hart; Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines (Cole, 31); Carrick; Walcott, Jones, Lampard, Milner; Rooney.

Substitutes Johnson/Oxlade-Chamberlain 63, Walcott/Rodwell 84. Not used: McCarthy (gk), Foster (gk), Welbeck,, Defoe, Lescott.

Referee: W Roldan (Colombia)  

Man of the match: Hart

Attendance: 66, 015 Rating: 8

Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
News
Lois Pryce... Life Without a Postcode. Lois lives on a boat with her husband.. Registering to vote in the election has prooved to be very difficult without a fixed residential post code. (David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing