Chances, ten a penny
Stretching their legs against a Brazil team that hasn’t looked like a great nation for some time, England took a near-instant lead. Cutting into the box, Nikita Parris’ deft cross was well met by the diminutive head of Fran Kirby, the Chelsea woman’s header perfectly struck to beat Bárbara.
Despite their early concession, Brazil managed to stabilise and keep the floodgates from opening – although England still dominated the attacks. For all the huffing and puffing, the Lionesses looked their most dangerous when Parris had the ball on her toe on the right. With Camila standing off and almost physically unable to mark the City winger, she was free to skip into the box, her crossing England’s best outlet.
The chances continued to flow for England after the break, the visitors with a clearer footing in the game but still unable to really test Carly Telford or the home defence. A defensively weak team, Brazil rode their luck at times, hearty blocks, a mass of blue shirts, a touch of luck and poor finishing from England keeping the scoreline interesting.
Aside from the rash of injuries to the Brazil players - the majority of Vadão's substitutions enforced - and Kirby's early goal, the match was all but without incident.
What’ve we learned?
After 90 cold, injury-filled minutes there is little to be gleaned from the friendly. England still want to test themselves against top opposition, Brazil were never going to be that team. England still have plenty of attacking options but still struggle with the basics of putting the ball in the back of the net.
What else have we learned today? Maybe that players are still getting in based on reputation or seniority when there are others in the league out-performing them.
Phil Neville nor his merry band of Lionesses are probably no more ready for the World Cup now than when they kicked off in Meadow Lane. Just like playing a visibly weakened Australia squad – missing almost half their preferred starting XI – will probably do little to ready the team. A week in the Algarve or Cyprus would still better suit the squad in terms of preparation for the upcoming tournament, but it’s already been made clear that England will persist with the She Believes.
Shining light on a dreary day
On the coldest day of the week when the fans in the stands were buying two cups of tea at half time – one to drink and one to pour down their trousers – there was a touch of sun on the pitch. Far and away the best player, Parris brought the warmth when the ailing days of British summer time could not.
Steaming down the right, jinking into the box and leaving Camila for dust, the young winger never failed to spark the Lionesses into life. Decision making a touch off but her pace and light footwork more than enough for the visiting defence to handle.