Samba stars see off GB
By Jamie Bradbury at the Riverside Stadium
Team GB Men 0-2 Brazil
Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough FC
7.45pm, Friday 20 July 2012
Live on BBC1
First half goals from Sandro and Neymar handed Brazil victory over Team GB in their London 2012 warm-up at the Riverside.
The visitors, featuring a stellar cast of star names, largely dominated proceedings, but Stuart Pearce can be pleased with the way his side grew in confidence as their first official game together grew older.
Brazil had the edge at the end, thanks to Sandro’s header and Neymar’s penalty, but Great Britain will look to build on the positives when the Olympics start in a six days.
GB did start brightly in front of a near 25,000-strong Teesside crowd, and though their first try was ambitious, it came from the left boot of Daniel Sturridge, who less than a fortnight ago was in hospital after being diagnosed with viral meningitis. The shot went high over Rafael Barbosa’s goal, but it showed that the Chelsea man was in the mood.
His side were soon to find themselves a goal down, however. Having been let off by Neymar’s poor finish into the stands following a defensive mix-up, Sandro nodded Brazil into a 12th-minute lead. Neymar’s free-kick on the edge of the home penalty area seemed to confuse Great Britain before finding the Spurs midfielder at the back post and he applied the finish, looping over Jason Steele.
Pearce’s side almost levelled straight away, though. Sturridge was wiped out by a clumsy challenge from Real Madrid defender Marcelo wide on the right. Ryan Giggs swung in the free-kick which Micah Richards met with a header at the far post. The Manchester City man nodded back down into the dangerzone, but no navy shirt was on hand to prod home.
The GB defence continued to look a little nervous when the play was in and around their own box, needing someone to take charge. But when they did push forward, Sturridge was a player likely to cause problems for the Brazilians.
However, it was the problems that the Samba boys were giving GB that was the main issue. While Neymar’s step-overs and fleet-footed approach wasn’t working, the more rugged affects of Hulk were asking serious questions.
When the Porto forward attacked Richards inside the area, forcing his way past the GB man, he could only bring him down as he tried to snuff out his advances and the French referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
In fairness, Richards’ pleas to the official may have been justified, the 24-year-old claiming he touched the ball back to 'keeper Steele. But the penalty was given nonetheless, and Neymar stayed on his feet and sent his shot inside the post, just out of reach of the Middlesbrough number one.
At half time Pearce made four changes, switching local boy Steele for England Euro 2012 squad member Jack Butland, Steven Caulker came on for Tomkins, Ryan Bertrand made way for Jack Cork and Sturridge was replaced by Scott Sinclair.
It was Butland who was the first of those to see any action, first beating out a 20-yard strike from Chelsea targer Oscar, then parrying a header from Leandro Damiao.
But the home fans were almost given something to cheer as the game reached the hour mark. A neat move down the GB left saw Danny Rose whip in a dangerous delivery towards Craig Bellamy, sliding into the six-yard box. The Liverpool man caught it well, producing a fine point-blank save from Rafael Barbosa, but the linesman’s flag was up anyway.
Rose was again the creator when GB went forward moments later, skipping away past Manchester United’s Rafael Da Silva. He looked up and tried to pick out another of the Old Trafford contingent inside the area, but his cross was too high for captain Giggs.
Pearce continued to re-shuffle as he introduced the balance of his substitute’s bench to offer vital experience ahead of their opening game at London 2012 against Senegal in Manchester next Thursday.
Meanwhile Brazil also made changes to give the likes of Alexandre Pato, the AC Milan forward, and Sao Paulo youngster Lucas a chance. But it was man-of-the-match Neymar who was the closest to extending the lead, seeing one soft shot dealt with by Butland and another low effort skid wide.
The Birmingham 'keeper was also called into action when Lucas almost latched on to a knock down inside the area, but he was out quickly to deal with the issue. He again demonstrated his agility as the game moved into stoppage time. A strong hand low to his right kept out Neymar again, before he tipped over a close-range Pato header to keep the score at 2-0.
So Brazil go into the Olympics with a win under their belt, but a more promising second half from Team GB suggests that there could be more to come in their home Games.
Jason Steele (Jack Butland, 46), Ryan Bertrand (Jack Cork, 46), Micah Richards (Craig Dawson, 74), James Tomkins (Steven Caulker, 46), Neil Taylor, Joe Allen, Ryan Giggs (c) (Aaron Ramsey, 63), Craig Bellamy (Marvin Sordell, 63), Tom Cleverley, Danny Rose, Daniel Sturridge (Scott Sinclair, 46)
Coach Stuart Pearce
Rafael Barbosa, Rafael Da Silva, Thiago Silva (c), Juan, Sandro (Danilo, 85), Marcelo (Alex Sandro, 80), Romulo, Leandro Damiao (Alexandre Pato 74), Oscar (Lucas, 68), Neymar, Hulk (Ganso, 68)
Subs Neto, Bruno Uvini
Coach Mano Menezes
Referee Clement Turpin (FRA)
Assistants Eric Dansault and Fredji Harchay (FRA)
Fourth Official David Webb (ENG)