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Football | England

England spoil Scolari's Brazil return



Luiz Felipe Scolari's second coming as Brazil manager ended in a defeat as goals from Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard earned a vibrant England side a 2-1 win at Wembley on Wednesday, their first over the south Americans for 23 years.

The moustachioed mastermind of Brazil's fifth world crown in 2002 has been re-installed to guide next year's World Cup hosts after a slide down the Fifa rankings but was left with much to ponder.

Veteran Ronaldinho, one of Scolari's trump cards during his previous spell in the hot seat, donned the famous yellow shirt for the first time in a year but the 32-year-old missed a first-half penalty before being withdrawn at halftime.

England capitalised on their early let-off with Rooney producing a cool finish to fire his side ahead after 27 minutes, his 33rd goal for his country.

Substitute Fred equalised for Brazil three minutes after halftime and struck the crossbar as Scolari's side briefly came alive in a fixture that kicked off a year of events to mark the 150th anniversary of the Football Association.

Lampard, one of six Chelsea players on display including Ashley Cole making his 100th appearance for England, sent the majority of the 87 000 fans home happy with a superb curled winner on the hour.

Brazil struggled to threaten in the closing stages and England comfortably held on for their first victory over Brazil in nine attempts stretching back to 1990.

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Roy Hodgson's England can expect a more nervy night in Montenegro next month where defeat could derail their World Cup qualification campaign, but they will move forward full of confidence after taking the scalp of Brazil.

"We were rather hoping things would go our way as we began our 150th year celebrations but we knew it wouldn't be easy because we chose to play Brazil," Hodgson told reporters.

"But I'm pleased with the way the players went about their business. I don't think we stole anything and apart from a mad spell just after halftime we dealt well with the questions they asked us and we asked plenty of questions for them."

Scolari, who after guiding Brazil to glory in Japan and South Korea, took Portugal to the semis in 2006 and came close to taking the England job before a brief spell as Chelsea manager, shrugged off the defeat.

"When I was coach of Kuwait I lost my first match, when I was coach of Brazil, I lost my first match and when I was coach of Portugal I also lost my first match, but every time I went on to be successful," Scolari told reporters.

BEST PLAYER

While declaring Ronaldinho his side's best player for "20 minutes" the forward whose long-range goal knocked England out of the 2002 World Cup looked past his best.

England, on the other hand, were youthful with 21-year-old Jack Wilshere catching the eye on his seventh senior appearance and Theo Walcott's pace causing problems for Brazil.

Wilshere's first significant contribution was to concede a penalty when he handled Ronaldinho's cross after 19 minutes but Joe Hart produced a great low save to deny the former Barcelona player.

That escape energised England and they went ahead when Wilshere, proving more useful at the other end, slid in Walcottt with clever pass. Julio Cesar saved Walcott's effort but when the ball rebounded to Rooney he calmly directed it through a crowd of defenders to put England ahead.

Neymar was struggling to live up to his hype and the Santos player somehow contrived to scoop the ball over the bar from Oscar's teasing cross.

A raft of halftime substitutions, including Ronaldinho's removal after a disappointing 45 minutes and the introduction of striker Fred, revived the visitors.

England defender Gary Cahill carelessly conceded possession after 48 minutes and was left with his head in his hands after Fred lashed Brazil's equaliser past Hart in front of a sizeable Brazilian contingent behind the goal.

Rattled, England almost went behind immediately when Fred curled a fierce shot on to the crossbar, but Hodgson's side quickly regained their poise and went back in front on the hour.

Rooney snatched possession from Arouca's weak pass and he teed up Lampard who curled a precise shot past the despairing dive of Cesar and in off the post.

Brazil threatened sporadically after that but England always looked more likely to add to their two goals.

"We are not in the best physical condition yet but from February and March we will work and see what is possible," Scolari said. "I'm not too disappointed. England played well but we will see how they play next June."

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