KEIR RADNEDGE at WEMBLEY: Promise and potential were not enough to produce a goal at Wembley as England drew 0-0 with Brazil in an ultimately unsatisfying World Cup warm-up at a distance of seven months from the possible real thing in Russia.
Brazil coach Tite said that his team would have been more deserving of victory though they had to wait until late in the second half before substitute Fernandinho went closest to breaking the deadlock with a low drive which clipped the outside of keeper Joe Hart’s right-hand post.
Hart also had to save from Paulinho with five minutes to go as England held on to extend their latest unbeaten run to six games.
Brazil always looked a class above Gareth Southgate’s latest experimental side though England could take satisfaction from a further goalless draw against superior opposition, following last week’s stalemate with Germany.
Overall, however, England provided a less satisfying performance for a crowd which appeared significantly below the officially announced 84,595 attendance.
Brazil coach Tite said: “If any one team deserved to win it was us because we had more chances. There weren’t many in the game but we had the best ones. This can happen in such a game when one team goes out to take the initiative and the other plays in a defensive, compact style and hopes to take advantage of one mistake on the counter-attack.
“There were fewer goal chances in this game than in most of our other matches but we certainly had the best ones. I can’t remember any moment when England scared us.”
Southgate was pleased with the positive aspects of the result and performance and agreed with the official man of the match award going to Liverpool defender Joe Gomez who played with particular assurance and timing on the right side of England’s three-man back line next to John Stones and Harry Maguire.
He said: “We looked anxious with the ball but the defensive performance collectively and the spirit and some of the individual defensive performances were outstanding so I’m more proud of tonight [than the Germany game] because we were playing the best team in the world who pose all sorts of different problems and we’ve come out with a creditable result.
“It’s not going to get tougher than it was tonight so this will stand the players in good stead moving forward. The young players have really stepped up in these two matches.”
England’s World Cup preparations will continue with March friendlies against Holland and Italy.
Southgate has four games lined up before next summer’s tournament and the Football Association has arranged to play two of the most high-profile sides who failed to qualify for Russia.
The Three Lions will play at Amsterdam’s Johan Cruyff Arena on March 23 before hosting the Azzurri at Wembley four days later.
Holland finished third behind France and Sweden in a tough qualification group, while Italy will miss their first World Cup in 60 years after losing a play-off to the latter.
England’s opponents for the remaining two friendlies are likely to depend on the outcome of the World Cup finals draw on December 1 in Moscow.