Still Got It: Frank Lampard celebrates
After Brazil’s Neymar had slammed Hodgson’s England team by saying they were a one-man team who relied on the talents of Wayne Rooney, the Three Lions had a point to prove.
Tipped by international boss Luiz Felipe Scolari to be the world’s next best player by the time the 2014 World Cup comes round, Neymar will be rueing his words following a solid performance from the home side.
A great result it may have been – last night was the first time England had defeated Brazil since Gary Lineker scored the only goal in a victory at the Old Wembley – but goes without mentioning it came against a developing Brazil side in the process of re-establishing themselves as the World Cup specialists we have been used to watching.
That said there were many positives to take out of England’s performance last night. In front of a sell-out Wembley crowd, there was a feeling that maybe we would hold our own. On an occasion that saw captain Steven Gerrard pick up his award for his 100th international cap to a rapturous applause for his appearance against Sweden in November, it was Wayne Rooney who broke the deadlock in the 27th minute to raise spirits even higher.
Also on the receiving end of a warm welcome was fellow veteran centurion Ashley Cole who despite being a subject of discussion for a portion of the Wembley faithful, reached the milestone last night.
After a shaky start that saw Neymar come close and a Ronaldinho penalty saved following a Jack Wilshere handball, the hosts looked promisingly unfazed by the army of yellow shirts that so often spark fear in their opposition.
Prospect: Jack Wilshere
Notable performances came from youngster Jack Wilshere who earned his seventh international start and his fellow central midfielder Gerrard. Having only played as a central pair for 13 minutes against the Swedes in November, man-of-the-match Wilshere admitted the win was a perfect remedy for their budding partnership:
“Stevie [Gerrard] talks to me all the time. We had to concentrate for the whole game.”
“We’ve got a good mix of youth and experience,” the 21-year-old said.
The victory will suffice to silence the England pessimists out there as the team looked reassuringly solid as a unit against one of the world’s best. The use of the flanks by implementing the in-form Theo Walcott looked threatening and their forward play had a good mix of patience and direction.
The evening ended unspoiled and it was a spectacle all home fans would have been happy with. Although it’s a given that the Samba Boys will be a different entity in the World Cup next year, there was reason why Hodgson and England should not be ashamed of their victory.
And if those pessimists were worried ahead of the testing trip to Podgorica to face Montenegro in the crucial World Cup qualifier next month, this will enthuse them with a glint of optimism for the future.
What the future has to hold for Frank Lampard on the other hand, only time can tell. But at 34 he proved last night that he will still cause a selection headache for Hodgson in the upcoming fixtures.
Scoring his 27th goal on the hour mark of his 94th appearance for the Three Lions, Lampard’s will to prove himself time and again can be compared to few. Going about his job in a mature and professional manner he is a true ambassador for his country – and club for that matter – and there was no surprise that he was reportedly offered a year extension on his contract at Chelsea today.
The midfielder is now tipped by bookies to retain his place in the England squad for the World Cup in Brazil, which will please his international manager.
In his post match interview Roy Hodgson warned it would be “problematic” if Lampard was to make a move to LA Galaxy this summer:
“I think he can reach 100 caps,” said Hodgson. “I hope we’ll keep Frank in England. It’s not for me to discuss his future with his current club – that’s for him and his club,” Hodgson said.