England suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Brazil in their second game of the Toulon Tournament in St. Raphael, as early goals in both halves proved their undoing.
Boss Gareth Southgate had wanted a real test for his players after a successful season of Euro qualifying and that was exactly what they got against a strong and bruising Brazil outfit.
England U20 1-2 Brazil
Stade Louis Hon, St. Raphael
Monday 26 May
It was certainly a different proposition to England’s recent matches, but one from which there are positives to take as well as lessons to be learned, with Brazil offering a stern challenge for the back-line with their pacy, direct and physical approach.
But with James Ward-Prowse netting a free-kick that many Brazilian superstars of the past would be proud of, it was a far from comfortable finish for the South Americans.
England had been warned about Brazil’s high-tempo play beforehand so it was no surprise that they started on the front foot with a direct and physical approach.
So Southgate will be disappointed with the manner in which his side fell behind in the eighth minute as Thalles emerged from a crowd of players to burst into the box.
With defenders drawn to the Vasco de Gama man, the ball fell loose and Alisson sneaked between Michael Keane and Jack Butland to scramble home from close range.
The goal shook the Three Lions and Saido Berahino was unlucky to see an attempted chip blocked before Nathan Redmond forced Marcos into a smart save 10 minutes later, after cutting inside from the left and firing a low drive at goal.
The first half largely proved to be something of a midfield battle though, with both sides finding clear chances hard to come by and both 'keepers left equally untroubled.
If the dry pitch in St. Raphael had contributed to that scrappy first half, it also aided Brazil’s second goal six minutes after the re-start.
With England comfortably passing the ball across the back, a cruel bobble sent Liam Moore’s pass into the path of Lucas Silva. He held off the challenge of Luke Garbutt, before striking a low shot into the far corner past Butland from just inside the area.
England made it interesting with nine minutes to go though, as Ward-Prowse pulled a goal back through a lovely free-kick, curled into the top corner from the corner of the area after a hand-ball from Gilberto.
With Cauley Woodrow introduced as a secondary striker to support Berahino and Redmond’s pace and drive on the flank, England began to ask more questions in the dying stages.
But Brazil managed to hold out for victory to make them favourites to top Group B and progress to Sunday’s Final in Avignon.
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Jack Butland (Stoke City) (c), 2 Tyias Browning (Everton), 5 Liam Moore (Leicester City), 6 Michael Keane (Manchester United), 3 Luke Garbutt (Everton); 8 James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), 4 Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea); 17 Jordan Cousins (Charlton Athletic), 14 Jake Forster-Caskey (Brighton & Hove Albion), 11 Nathan Redmond (Norwich City); 9 Saido Berahino (West Bromwich Albion).
Substitutes: 19 Cauley Woodrow (Fulham) for Forster-Caskey 51, 12 Brad Smith (Liverpool) for Garbutt 60, 18 Solly March (Brighton & Hove Albion) for Cousins 80
Substitutes not used: 13 Jonathan Bond (Watford), 7 Jordan Obita (Reading), 10 Josh McEachran (Chelsea), 15 Eric Dier (Sporting Lisbon), 16 Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough), 20 Will Keane (Manchester United).
Head coach: Gareth Southgate.
Goals: James Ward-Prowse 71.
Cautions: James Ward-Prowse 54.
Brazil (4-3-3): 1 Marcos (Fluminese); 2 Gilberto (Internacional), 3 Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), 4 Doria (Botafogo), 6 Wendell (Gremio); 5 Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo); 8 Lucas Silva (Cruzeiro), 17 Lucas Evangelista (Sao Paulo); 11 Allison (Cruzeiro); 9 Thalles (Vasco de Gama), 10 Ademilson (Sao Paulo).
Substitutes: 15 Alison (Santos) for Ademilson 52, 20 Lucas Piazon (Chelsea) for Thalles 59, 14 Wallace (Cruzeiro) for Doria 68.
Substitutes not used: 12 Ederson (Rio Ave), 7 Leandro (Palmeiras), 13 Auro (Sao Paulo), 16 Douglas Santos (Undinese), 18 Luan (Gremio), 19 Mosquito (Athletico Paranaense).
Manager: Alexandre Gallo.
Goals: Allison 7, Lucas Silva 46
Cautions: Doria 24, Thalles 49
Referee: M. Ibrahim (Jordan)
Assistant referees: M Aqel & M Abu-Thaher (Jordan)
Fourth official: M Santos-Capela (Portugal).