Brazil foiled as ice-cold England hold on to draw friendly
Brazil's Neymar takes the ball forward watched by England's Joe Gomez, left, and England's Eric Dier during the international friendly soccer match between England and Brazil at Wembley stadium in London, Britain, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
By Rob Harris, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — Tite came through his first European test as Brazil coach and was surprised at the resilience of an inexperienced England side.
"They were like ice," Tite said after Brazil was held 0-0 at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday. "They were really cold and never lost their minds."
England had also stayed cool on Friday against another of the world's leading teams when Germany was held to a scoreless draw in north London.
"They won't face a more difficult test than in the last two matches," England coach Gareth Southgate said. "I'm probably more proud tonight because we played the best team in the world with a full team out. We've come out with a really credible result."
In a friendly of few chances in front of 84,595 fans at Wembley Stadium, the closest England and Brazil came to breaking the deadlock came in the final 15 minutes.
A long-range strike from Fernandinho shaved the post and Neymar fed Paulinho, who was denied at the near post by England goalkeeper Joe Hart.
"We were playing the best team in the world at the moment. I thought they were brilliant," Hart said. "They made it really hard for us and we had to adapt on the pitch ... the defensive backline were absolutely phenomenal tonight."
Dominic Solanke could have won it for England on his international debut in the closing minutes, but he failed to control Ashley Young's cross, enabling goalkeeper Ramses Becker to gather the ball.
"Tonight we looked anxious with the ball," Southgate said, "and I think that is a consequence of the threat from Brazil."
Brazil, though, has only conceded 5 goals in its last 17 games and beat Japan 3-1 before traveling to London.
"Against Japan we tested ourselves against a more mobile and skilled team, against England we tested ourselves against a team of strong and tall players, very solid," said Tite, who was hired in June 2016. "This will help in preparations."
It was the final game of the year for England and Brazil, which are now waiting to see who they will be paired with at the 2018 World Cup when the draw takes place next month.
"We can look at the areas we can improve and need to improve," Southgate said, "but it's not going to get much tougher than it did tonight."
Both teams will be traveling to Russia trying to erase painful memories of the 2014 tournament. For Brazil, there was the humiliating 7-1 exit to Germany in the semifinals on home soil. England didn't even make it out of the group stage in Brazil.
But at least both sides have qualified for Russia next year, unlike four-time champion Italy.
"History and T-shirts are not enough to take you to a World Cup," Tite said of Italy's failure to advance from the playoffs on Monday.