Arsenal's Walcott and Wilshere shine for England

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere were arguably the best two players for England at Wembley on Wednesday Feb. 6 when the Three Lions managed to pull off an impressive 2-1 win, their first over the South Americans in the past 23 years. Man of the match Wilshere was easily the best player on the pitch in the first 45 minutes as he was determined to be the driving force on the team. Walcott impressed with some excellent runs and wasn’t afraid to take on the Brazilian defenders one on one.
The rest of their teammates also had fine games for the most part and overall it was a pretty entertaining match and just the fourth time ever that England has bettered five-time World Cup champions Brazil in a football match…at least on the scoreboard. It looked like things would get off to a rocky start for the home team though when Wilshere made one of his only mistakes of the game by handling a cross by Oscar in the 18-yard box in the 19th minute.
This resulted in a penalty and new/old boss Luiz Felipe Scolari elected to let the recently-recalled Ronaldinho take the spot kick. He shot it low to the corner to the left of keeper Joe Hart, but the Man City man dove quickly to make the save and then pulled off another one when he Brazilian forward raced in to shoot the rebound. Neymar then got to the ball next, but fumbled it out of play. Remarkably, it was the first time an England goalkeeper has made a save on a penalty kick in an international match since back in 2004.
Wilshere was pulling the strings and orchestrating the England attack during the first half and was probably more determined than ever to make up for his handball. He was setting up teammates left, right and centre and it finally paid off when he found Walcott racing down the right/centre of the pitch with an inch-perfect pass. Keeper Julio Cesar managed to save Walcott’s effort, but the rebound found itself on the boot of Wayne Rooney who calmly slotted it into the gaping goal in the 26th minute. It was his fifth goal in his past five outings for England.
Walcott had another good effort thwarted by Cesar before halftime and the score after 45 minutes stood at 1-0 for England. They started the second half off badly though and a poor clearance by Joe Hart and some bad ball control by Gary Cahill led to an equalizer just three minutes into the second half. Brazilian forward Fred, who just came on to start the second half, was gifted with the ball at the edge of the penalty area and he hammered a shot past a diving Hart.
Fred almost put the Brazilians ahead about a minute later when Chris Smalling gifted him with another ball, but this time his shot skimmed off of the crossbar. Another halftime substitute, Chelsea’s Frank Lampard put England ahead for good  when he scored his 27th international goal by placing the ball in off of the post past Cesar in the 60th minute.
Walcott had a couple of more excellent runs and passes before being taken off in the 76thminute for Tottenham’s Aaron Lennon. Wilshere played the whole game and deservedly took the man of the match honors. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was an unused substitute. The match should have boosted Wilshere’s and Walcott’s confidence even higher and they should be flying when they take to the pitch in Sunderland for the Gunners on Saturday.
England Player Ratings vs Brazil Wed. Feb. 6
Joe Hart 7.5
Hart pulled off a great double save on Ronaldinho’s penalty for England’s first penalty stop since 2004. The Man City keeper did everything asked of him, but his poor clearance led to Fred’s goal.
Glen Johnson 7
Liverpool’s Johnson played a steady game in both ends of the pitch.
Gary Cahill 6
Chelsea’s Cahill had a decent match, but his lack of ball control led to Brazil’s goal.
Chris Smalling 6
Smalling of Manchester United really made just one noticeable mistake and put in a steady performance.
Ashley Cole 5
Chelsea’s Cole was celebrating his 100th cap, but it was one of his worst games for England. Played the first half only and had one brutal effort on goal and didn’t look too reassuring defensively.
Steven Gerrard 7.5
Liverpool’s skipper worked well in tandem with Wilshere and showed he’s still got a lot left in the tank. Spread the ball around nicely
Theo Walcott 8
Walcott had a superb game especially when he took on the defenders with his pace. His saved effort led to England’s first goal and Cesar stopped him on a couple of other occasions. Always looked dangerous. Came off after 76 minutes for Aaron Lennon.
Tom Cleverly 6.5
Man United’s Cleverly didn’t look out of place and played a controlled and effective first half. He was then replaced by Lampard.
Jack Wilshere 8.5
Wishere was the team’s best player, but slowed down slightly in the second half. He also handled the ball to give Brazil an early penalty. Superb effort and England’s bright spot for the future.
Danny Welbeck 6
Man United’s Welbeck had one good chance which he scuffed, but played well enough for the first half. Came off after the 61stt minute for Milner
Wayne Rooney 8
The Man United forward scored and helped set up Lampard. He also dropped back into the midfield when needed.
Frank Lampard 7
Came on at halftime for Cleverly and scored the winner. Was effective and influential.
Leighton Baines 6
Everton’s Baines took over from Cole at halftime and put in a solid showing.

James Milner 5.5
Came on for Welbeck after 61 minutes. Another disappointing showing from the Man City player. Didn’t do anything of note.
Aaron Lennon 6
The Spurs winger came on after 76 minutes for Walcott and did his job.

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