KEIR RADNEDGE at WEMBLEY: England capitalised on a lucky escape early in their prestige friendly here against Brazil when Ronaldinho missed a penalty but they recovered to win 2-1 on strikes from Wayne Rooney and substitute Frank Lampard.
Ashley Cole could hardly have wished for a grander stage – outside the World Cup – on which to celebrate becoming the seventh England player to reach 100 international caps – though he had to share leftback duties with Leighton Baines on the way to England’s first victory over Brazil in 23 years.
The match was a high-visibility active kickoff to the 150th anniversary celebration year of the Football Association, the original national federation for the organised game.
The 24th meeting between the nations was also significant for Brazil: it is the first match back in charge for Luiz Felipe Scolari, the one-time Chelsea boss who has been handed the onerous task of trying to steer the next World Cup hosts to glory on home soil next year.
Scolari had answered public and media clamour in Brazil to recall Ronaldinho, a veteran of his World Cup-winning team in 2002. This was also, according to the CBF, Ronaldinho’s 100th appearance for his country.
He had nothing to celebrate, however, when the only survivor from the last Brazilian team to win a World Cup, in 2002, wasted the chance to put Brazil ahead.
Ronaldinho had won the 18th-minute spotkick when his attempted cross from the left was blocked by the arm of Jack Wilshere.Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca pointed immediately to the spot but Ronaldinho, making his 100th appearance for Brazil, hit a lazy soft kick and Hart first blocked it and Neymar’s attempt to reach the rebound flew wide.
This was the second successive penalty Ronaldinho had missed after fluffing a kick in similar fashion for Atletico Mineiro against Belo Horizonte derby rivals Cruzeiro in December.
Wilshere made amends for his own slip at the other end minutes later when he played Danny Welbeck through on the left only for the Manchester United striker to jab his shot high over Julio Cesar’s crossbar.
No matter, minutes later England were ahead. Theo Walcott dashed through on the right, Cesar blocked his shot but it fell kindly for Wayne Rooney to drive home his 33rd goal for his country. Once more, the decisive pass had come from Wilshere.
Fred, substituting for Ronaldinho, thumped Brazil level in the 47th minute after defensive mistake by Gary Cahill but on of England’s replacements, Frank Lampard, restored the hosts’ advantage just before the hour.
This time it was the Brazilian defence which conceded possession carelessly deep in their own half and the Chelsea’s man 20-metre sidefoot ricocheted off the inside of Cesar’s left-hand post and across the goal-line before falling just inside the opposite upright.
That was the 27th goal of Lampard’s international career.
England: Hart, Johnson, Cahill, Smalling, Cole, Cleverley, Gerrard, Wilshere, Walcott, Rooney, Welbeck
Subs:Walker, Butland, Baines, Jagielka, Lescott, Milner, Lampard, Osman, Lennon, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Luiz, Dante, Adriano, Paulinho, Ramires, Ronaldinho, Neymar, Luis Fabiano, Oscar
Subs: Diego Alves, Filipe Luis, Leandro Castan, Miranda, Arouca, Jean, Lucas Moura, Fred, Hulk
Referee: Proenca (Portugal)
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