England locate rhythm in Brazil win

INTERNATIONAL
ENGLAND 2 vs BRAZIL 1

MANAGER Roy Hodgson heaped praise on Jack Wilshere after the midfielder marked his first international start for 20 months with a man-of-the-match performance in last night’s friendly victory over Brazil.

Wayne Rooney’s 33rd England goal and what threatens to be Frank Lampard’s last, either side of Fred’s equaliser, earned the hosts a first triumph over the celebrated South Americans since 1990.

Goalkeeper Joe Hart also played a crucial part with an excellent penalty save from Ronaldinho, but on a night of milestones and celebrations it was the return of Wilshere that offered greatest hope.

“He was made man of the match and I concur with that, I thought he had an excellent game,” said Hodgson. “As did Theo Walcott, I thought those two were the serious contenders. Jack brings us energy, mobility and enthusiasm in midfield, and links that with an awful lot of skill. I thought the three midfielders in both halves did very well.

“It really was a good result. The players worked really hard for it. We had a mad spell at the start of the second half, which put them back in the game, but we were good value for our victory over 90 minutes. I think we can be satisfied with not only the win but also the manner of the win.”

Lampard secured the victory with a deft first-time shot that curled in off the post, and Hodgson urged the 34-year-old to stay in the Premier League, or Europe at the very least, when his Chelsea contract expires in the summer. The evergreen midfielder has been tipped to follow in David Beckham’s footsteps by joining LA Galaxy, but Hodgson warned such a move would make Lampard’s progress hard to monitor.

“I’m rather hoping we’ll still see him if not in England then Europe, which will make my task easier,” he added. “If he goes further afield and follows David, it complicates matters but it doesn’t mean your career is over with England. But the further afield you go, the more problematic it gets for the media and the England manager to follow you.”

England’s fourth win over Brazil ensures Hodgson’s men approach next month’s 2014 World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro emboldened, and came on a night of milestones, including left-back Ashley Cole’s 100th cap.

That honour was also shared by Brazil forward Ronaldinho, at whose hands England famously exited the 2002 World Cup, but he conjured little of his old magic nor found any favours from Hart. The Manchester City stopper saved the former Barcelona forward’s tame penalty easily enough, but then showed superb agility to halt his follow-up, before the alert Tom Cleverley cleared.

Hodgson did not hide his anger that a spot-kick had been given for a cross striking Wilshere – “They can’t chop their arms off,” he said – but it dissipated moments later when England took the lead. Wilshere, playing in a midfield triangle with captain Steven Gerrard and Manchester United’s Cleverley, released Walcott, and, when Julio Cesar saved at the Arsenal forward’s feet, the lurking Rooney pounced.

Santos wunderkind Neymar blazed over before half-time, but the visitors, and next World Cup hosts, levelled when substitute Fred beat Hart with a powerful left-footed effort after Gary Cahill had been dispossessed.

Fred hit the crossbar seconds later, but Lampard clinched a deserved win on the hour when Brazil half-cleared and he clinically guided an 18-yard shot in off the woodwork.