Goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wayne Rooney help England to 2-2 draw in Rio
Brazil 2-2 England
8pm BST, Sunday 2 June 2013
by Nicholas Veevers in Rio
The new Maracana Stadium was given the welcome it warranted on Sunday evening as Brazil and England played out a thrilling game.
All of the goals came in a breathtaking second half, with the hosts taking a deserved lead only for the Three Lions to come storming back.
Memorable strikes from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wayne Rooney turned things around after Fred had sent the Maracana into madness with the opening goal.
And it was even more fitting for Arsenal star Oxlade-Chamberlain given that his father Mark was part of the England team who last played, and won, in the Maracana back in 1984.
But it was Brazil’s star man Neymar who conducted the occasion for the hosts, proving a constant first-half menace to the England defence and Joe Hart in particular.
Having just sealed a transfer from Santos to Barcelona, the 21-year-old more than lived up to his billing as one of world football’s rising stars.
At times in the first period it was almost like a one-man crusade from Neymar to fire his team to victory but he found an inspired Hart in front of him and that was to prove the foundation for a much improved second-half show from England.
Backed by their loud and fervent crowd, Brazil dominated the first 45 minutes. Neymar started it off when he fired a harshly awarded free-kick straight at Hart having already seen Leighton Baines block Hulk’s effort.
Hart then made a good block on his line to deny Neymar after he’d latched onto a mis-hit clearance from Glen Johnson just inside the six yard box.
England just couldn’t get to grips with Neymar and the warning signs were there again when he twisted and turned on the edge of the area before shooting over the bar.
But again England had to rely on Hart as he made a brave double save to block efforts from Filipe Luis and Neymar as the hosts kept pushing for the opener.
Hart’s heroics continued moments after that, as he pushed away Oscar’s low drive after the Chelsea man had been set up by Neymar.
Rooney had faced a tough start to the afternoon as England’s lone striker, but he had an opening as half time approached after trading passes with Theo Walcott.
He worked just enough space to fashion a left-footed shot but Luiz Gustavo managed to make a timely block to save Julio Cesar from making his first save of the game.
Cesar did make his first save of the day soon after, when a good move from England saw Rooney pick out Johnson on the right.
The Liverpool star cut inside before his clever reverse pass sent Walcott clear into the box, only to shoot straight at Cesar who prevented what would have been an unlikely lead for England.
Lampard then tested him again with a stinging left-footer after sub Ashley Cole’s cross was only part-cleared by David Luiz to see the teams go in level at the break.
England knew they had to improve after the break and they began to pose more questions of their hosts.
But on two occasions Walcott was wasteful in possession and Brazil punished them just before the hour mark.
Substitute Hernanes was the architect as his curling shot beat Hart, only to crash back off the angle. Fred was there to pounce and he smashed home the rebound to bring the Maracana to its feet.
England immediately got back into it and James Milner was unfortunate to see his low show deflected wide soon after.
And from the resulting corner kick, Rooney could only guide a header wide after he’d been afforded too much space inside the box.
England didn’t have to wait much longer for their equaliser though, when Lampard and Rooney combined to set up Oxlade-Chamberlain for a first-time shot, which he clinically dispatched from 25 yards into the bottom corner. It was a beautiful strike and a wonderful moment for the youngster who had only just replaced Johnson.
Rooney then collected another pass from Lampard and teed up Milner, whose shot was again blocked in the area.
England were now on top and it was no surprise that they took the lead in fine style, by catching Brazil out with a stunning counter attack.
When Marcelo’s poor cut-back from the left picked out Michael Carrick, the ball was quickly spread out to Milner on the left.
He made his way past Alves before feeding Rooney and the Manchester United man did the rest by cutting inside and firing an unstoppable shot past Cesar and into the top corner.
England’s fans were in wonderland, but the lead only lasted for five minutes as Paulinho stroked home a stunning volley to bring the Maracana back to life.
Both teams were now going at each other in search of a victory, but just as the opening game at Wembley in 2006 ended in a draw, it was to be the same here in Rio.
But what a memorable draw that was and a second half which will undoubtedly live long in the memory of everyone viewing.
12 Julio Cesar, 2 Daniel Alves, 4 David Luiz, 14 Filipe Luis (8 Hernanes, 46), 9 Fred (Leandro Damiao, 77) 19 Hulk (5 Fernando, 72), 17 Luiz Gustavo (6 Marcelo, 46) 10 Neymar, 11 Oscar (7 Lucas Moura, 55), 18 Paulinho (20 Bernard 83), 3 Thiago (c).
Substitutes not used 15 Dante, 22 Diego Cavalieri, 23 Jadson, 13 Jean, 19 Jefferson, 16 Rever.
1 Joe Hart, 2 Glen Johnson (16 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 63), 3 Leighton Baines (12 Ashley Cole, 31), 4 Michael Carrick, 5 Gary Cahill, 6 Phil Jagielka, 7 Phil Jones, 8 Frank Lampard (C), 9 Theo Walcott (15 Jack Rodwell, 84) 10 Wayne Rooney, 11 James Milner.
Substitutes not used 13 Ben Foster, 14 Joleon Lescott, 17 Jermain Defoe, 18 Alex McCarthy.
Referee Wilmar Roldan
Assistant Referees Eduardo Diaz & Wilson Berrio
Fourth Official Pericles Cortez