• International friendlies round-up

Late strike denies England repeat Maracana triumph

ESPN staff
June 2, 2013
England gained a draw in the Maracana, thanks to Wayne Rooney and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain © PA Photos

Second half goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wayne Rooney enabled England to claim a 2-2 draw against Brazil in the Maracana on Sunday - as only a late Paulinho equaliser denied Roy Hodgson's side from condemning the South Americans to a rare home defeat.

England were thoroughly outclassed in the first half but only went behind after the break, as Fred reacted quickest after Hernane's curled effort hit the bar. Then came the turnaround - Oxlade-Chamberlain hitting a first-time volley to equalise, before Rooney found the net with a curler from 25 yards - that had fans dreaming of a repeat of the John Barnes-engineered win the team enjoyed at the same venue 29 years ago.

Paulinho would deny a repeat of that memorable result, however - volleying home from a cross with just under ten minutes remaining to set up a nervy finish. But it was one that England just about managed to survive, as they escaped with a confidence-boosting draw.

If England are to harbour hopes of returning to this venue next summer for the World Cup then Hodgson will need more quality, and for his missing players such as Jack Wilshere and Steven Gerrard to be both fit and in form.

The growing confidence of Oxlade-Chamberlain is a boon for England however. The 19-year-old was omitted from the starting line-up despite having begun in midweek against the Republic of Ireland as Hodgson went with a predictably cautious XI, and Rooney as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation.

The first half-hour was painful watching for the 1,000 or so England fans who had made the trip to Rio, with the shot count 13 for Brazil and a big fat zero for Hodgson's side.

Indeed the outstanding player on the pitch was the England keeper Joe Hart, who produced sprawling save after heroic block.

Dani Alves, from 30 yards, was the first to threaten and then Neymar seized onto a chance but the Manchester City keeper blocked the shot at close range.

The 21-year-old Neymar, whose transfer to Barcelona was completed this week, ran the show in the first half and he twisted into space on the edge of the box before bending a lovely effort just wide - much to Hart's relief.

Hart was then called into last-ditch action again to scramble the ball away from the feet of Neymar and Luis Filipe.

Oscar was the next to threaten but again he found Hart in the way, before Hulk gave the England keeper some respite by slicing his effort over the top.

Neymar tried the unexpected, slotting a shot through Glen Johnson's legs but Hart anticipated it well.

England had to wait until the 35th minute for their first attempt on goal, and it was hardly worth the wait. Rooney found half a yard of space and tried his luck but found David Luiz in the way.

Five minutes later there was a better attempt to end the one-way traffic when Johnson's neat ball found Theo Walcott and the Arsenal man hit a rising drive that Julio Cesar saved well.

How the half remained goalless was baffling, and in the second half when Fred volleyed home the rebound after Hernanes had rasped a long-range effort against the angle, it was just reward for Brazil.

Suddenly however, England sparked into life. Oxlade-Chamberlain's appearance with an hour to go was a turning point, and six minutes after he came on a neat one-touch passing move between skipper Frank Lampard and Rooney ended with the ball being laid off for the teenager to drill a low strike from 20 yards past Cesar to level the match.

Wonder soon turned to sheer amazement as James Milner showed some Brazilian-like trickery to put Rooney into space, and the Manchester United striker cut inside before curling a magnificent effort into the top corner with

the aid of a slight deflection of Fernando for his 36th England goal.

It would have been harsh in the extreme for Brazil to lose this one after putting on such a show, and Paulinho's volley at least restored some sense to the scoreline.

England will long remember these two great goals - but they must not forget the lesson.

Richard Keogh was on the scoresheet for the Republic of Ireland © PA Photos

Elsewhere, Robbie Keane marked his record-equalling 125th appearance for the Republic of Ireland with a double to see off 10-man Georgia in a 4-0 win.

The 32-year-old climbed off the bench to draw level with keeper Shay Given, and will go top of the list if, as expected, he leads Ireland into World Cup qualifier battle with the Faroe Islands on Friday evening.

Keane claimed his 55th international goal from point-blank range with 13 minutes of the game remaining and then took his tally to 56 three minutes from time to seal a comfortable victory with the Georgians labouring after keeper Giorgi Loria's 20th-minute dismissal.

Derby defender Richard Keogh had opened the scoring three minutes before the break with his first senior international goal, and Nottingham Forest striker Simon Cox extended the home side's lead three minutes after the restart after good work by James McClean.

Meanwhile, there was a surprise across the Atlantic - as the United States defeated Germany 4-3.

Jozy Altidore opened the scoring in Washington DC, before a Marc-Andre ter Stegen own goal double the home side's advantage. Heiko Westermann then got an equaliser shortly after half-time, before Clint Dempsey scored twice in four minutes to put the US comfortably ahead.

Max Kruse and Julian Draxler then notched to set up a tense last ten minutes, but Jurgen Klinsmann's side held on for the win.

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