PA Sport

England have made great case for the defence - Gareth Southgate

England have made great case for the defence - Gareth Southgate
By PA Sport

15/11/2017 at 07:27Updated 15/11/2017 at 07:32

England boss Gareth Southgate believes his side proved they have the defensive mettle to challenge the best in the world after keeping Brazil's attacking brilliance at bay.

England boss Gareth Southgate believes his side proved they have the defensive mettle to challenge the best in the world after keeping Brazil's attacking brilliance at bay.

Having kept world champions Germany to a 0-0 draw at Wembley on Friday night, the Three Lions repeated the trick against the South American stars.

Fans may have been hoping for a goal-fest when the two prestige friendlies were announced but Southgate feels the lessons learned from back-to-back rearguard efforts against the top two sides on the planet will go a long way.

Joe Gomez excelled on his full debut, turning in a display of calm authority that just nudged him ahead of fellow defenders John Stones and Harry Maguire in the man-of-the-match reckoning.

England may still have plenty to do if they are to mount a serious assault on next summer's World Cup but few will see them as the pushovers they became at Euro 2016 if they continue standing their ground in this fashion.

"The resilience collective and individually was absolutely outstanding," Southgate said.

"I was probably more proud tonight than I was against Germany because we played, I think, the best team in the world, with their full team out, and come out with a really creditable result.

"We can look at areas we could improve but we found so many positives in terms of players who've performed at this level for the first time.

"They're not going to face more difficult tests than they've had in the two matches we've just had. We had the best defensive record in Europe in qualifying and we've played the best two teams in the world and not conceded.

"In terms of heart, resilience and spirit it was up there with anything I have been involved in."

Southgate was happy to join in the chorus of praise for Gomez, who was one of several surprise call-ups for this double-header.

Having arrived a raw rookie, and he returns to Liverpool with two caps, two clean sheets and a bright future.

"I thought they were all excellent but Joe was named man of the match and rightly so," Southgate said.

"I think his decision-making was outstanding. We know his athleticism is a real asset but to see his calmness in the face of such high-quality movement, dealing with through passes he had to read... superb.

"Joe has been one of the best young players in our system for a long time. He has come back from an ACL injury and showed great character and tonight he's had a wonderful experience.

"It gives me plenty to think about."

Joe Hart, recalled after Jordan Pickford's fine debut last time out, played his part too.

He made a couple of good saves, not least when Paulinho escaped and lashed at the near post in the closing minutes.

But the goalkeeper, winning his 75th cap, was happy to push the spotlight towards Gomez.

"I can't speak highly enough of his performance, he was playing against one of the hottest players (Neymar) and he did well against him," Hart said.

"It's not a win but it's a good performance. We have played against the best two teams in the world. We didn't win, but we didn't lose."

Brazil boss Tite offered England a respectful nod for their tactical discipline.

He has seen his side routinely dominate sides since taking the reins from Dunga, qualifying from the tricky South American pool amid an avalanche of goals.

But this time he was unable to find a way through.

"They were like ice, really cold, they never lost their minds," Tite said.

"We have scored many goals this year but not today because England played really well, blocking our offence. They were trying to close out the space and they had a lot of mental power."

0
0