LONDON, England, February 6 – England beat Brazil 2-1 on Wednesday to end a 23-year wait for victory over the five-time world champions and consign Luiz Felipe Scolari to defeat in the first game of his second spell as Brazil coach.
On a chilly Wembley night that saw Ashley Cole win his 100th England cap, home goalkeeper Joe Hart saved an early penalty from the recalled Ronaldinho, before Wayne Rooney put Roy Hodgson’s side ahead.
An error from Gary Cahill allowed half-time substitute Fred to equalise for Brazil early in the second half, but Cahill’s Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard gave England victory with a smartly taken goal on the hour.
The friendly game was being played to mark the start of the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations, and in Scolari’s disjointed Brazil, England found unexpectedly generous opponents.
Hodgson’s men will now approach March’s World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro in good heart, while Scolari must revisit his plans to craft a side capable of winning a sixth world title on home soil in 2014.
Jack Wilshere started alongside England captain Steven Gerrard in midfield for the first time and the Arsenal man was quick to assert himself with an enterprising forward burst that drew applause from the home fans.
However, the 21-year-old gifted Brazil an opportunity to take the lead in the 19th minute when he allowed Ronaldinho’s cross to strike him on the arm.
Back in the side after an absence of a year, Ronaldinho stepped forward to take the penalty himself, but his weak shot was saved by Hart, who then reacted sharply to claw the ball away as the thwarted taker closed in for the kill.
England reacted positively to their close shave, with the excellent Wilshere immediately slipping a pass through to Danny Welbeck, who poked over.
Cole and Glen Johnson both had shots from distance, before the hosts made the breakthrough with a goal that will have greatly pleased Hodgson.
Wilshere was again the creator, threading a fine pass between centre-back and full-back for Theo Walcott, and when the Arsenal winger’s shot was blocked by Julio Cesar, Rooney steered the loose ball home to claim his 33rd England goal.
Neymar then spurned a glorious chance to level when he put the ball over from close range as he slid in to meet a low cross from the lively Oscar.
Cole’s big night ended at half-time, with Leighton Baines coming on in his place, while Scolari elected to withdraw both Ronaldinho and the ineffective Luis Fabiano.
Fabiano’s replacement, Fred, needed just three minutes to find the target, but the goal was presented to him on a plate by the blundering Cahill.
Imperious until then, the Chelsea centre-back over-ran the ball in a dangerous position and after Ramires darted in, Fred capitalised to flash a left-foot shot past Hart from the edge of the area.
Similar shaky England defending almost yielded a second Brazil goal moments later, but after Hart’s hurried clearance struck Cahill and bounced away, Fred saw his attempted curler hit the angle of post and bar.
Eager to atone, Cahill forced Cesar into a superb finger-tip save with a powerful header from a corner.
Brazil’s defending was puzzlingly static at times and England took advantage to re-take the lead in the 60th minute.
After one of several Walcott surges down the right, the ball popped out to the edge of the area, and with Paulinho dawdling, Rooney stole in to tee up Lampard, who scored with a first-time shot that went in off the right-hand post.
Neymar tried to enliven proceedings with an audacious overhead kick that flew well over, before the now familiar succession of substitutions drew the life from the game and allowed England to see out a morale-boosting success.