England-Brazil: The greatest moments
There's no country on the planet more synonymous with the World Cup than Brazil. The iconic yellow kit, the sublime football of 1970 and 1982, the five triumphs in five different decades... no other nation comes close to matching the impact the Selecao have had on the world's greatest sporting event.
That, obviously, includes England, but there have nevertheless been some terrific matches between the two over the years. Brazil may have the upper hand, winning 11 games to the Three Lions' four, but England have certainly had their moments too...
12. England 1-1 Brazil, 1987
After the British Home Championship petered out in the 1980s, the Rous Cup – essential an annual match between England and Scotland – sprang up in its place. Both nations had a taste of victory in the first two editions, before Brazil were curiously invited to participate in the 1987 competition.
England hosted the Selecao in the opening fixture, Gary Lineker’s opening goal was almost instantly cancelled out by Mirandinha. It was the diminutive striker's only international goal, although it did help him earn a move that summer to Newcastle United. Before that, the Three Lions finished their Rous Cup round-robin with a goalless draw in Glasgow, which left the path clear for Brazil to scoop the trophy with a comfortable 2-0 triumph over Andy Roxburgh’s side.
11. England 0-1 Brazil, 1997
England, Brazil and Italy were the three nations invited to the Tournoi de France in 1997, which was held as a Confederations Cup-style warm-up for the following year’s World Cup. Back-to-back victories over Italy and France meant the Three Lions had already been crowned champions ahead of their final game against Brazil, who had only managed a pair of draws against the same opposition.
The Selecao got the better of England, though, with Romario grabbing the only goal of the game in the 61st minute. That lifted Brazil into second spot in the standings; 12 months later, they were runners-up once more as a Zinedine Zidane-inspired France beat the defending champions 3-0 in the World Cup final.
10. Brazil 2-2 England, 2013
England last played Brazil four years ago as the latter prepared for the Confederations Cup which kicked off on home soil a couple of weeks later. After a goalless opening half the game came to life in the second period, with Fred breaking the deadlock in the 57th minute after a Hernanes shot cannoned back off the bar.
The visitors levelled things up soon after, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain unleashing an instinctive drive from 25 yards, and then took the lead through Wayne Rooney’s fine strike in the 79th minute. England couldn’t hold on for the win, though, as Paulinho ensured Brazil avoided defeat in the first game held at the refurbished Maracana.
9. England 1-3 Brazil, 1995
A year before the European Championship was held in England for the first time, the country played host to the four-team Umbro Cup featuring the Three Lions, Brazil, Sweden and Japan. An 88th-minute penalty from David Platt got England off to a solid start against the Japanese, before further late drama saw the home nation recover from 3-1 down to draw with the Swedes.
Brazil’s meetings with the same two teams were handled with a great deal less fuss, their two victories meaning a draw against England in the tournament’s finale would be enough for victory. Graeme Le Saux gave Terry Venables’ men a half-time lead, but goals from Juninho, Ronaldo and Edmundo saw the Selecao claim the trophy in style.
8. England 1-0 Brazil, 1990
Six weeks before their deepest run in a World Cup held overseas, England overcame Brazil on home soil for the first time in 34 years. Gary Lineker’s goal in the 35th minute made the difference for the Three Lions, the Tottenham striker stooping to nod the ball home following John Barnes’ flick-on from a corner.
Brazil, who counted Taffarel, Dunga and Bebeto among their number, pushed hard for an equaliser and were unfortunate to have a goal disallowed when Müller’s shot crossed the line before being cleared by Stuart Pearce. As it was, England hung on for a morale-boosting win.
7. England 4-2 Brazil, 1956
England’s biggest ever win against Brazil came in the first ever match between the two nations, held in front of 97,000 fans at Wembley in 1956. The hosts came flying out of the traps with two goals in five minutes, but the South Americans were back on level terms before the hour thanks to efforts from Paulinho and Didi.
England weren’t done yet, though, as Tommy Taylor (pictured above) and Colin Grainger restored their two-goal advantage. Two years before their first World Cup triumph, Brazil were well beaten by Walter Winterbottom’s men.
6. Brazil 5-1 England, 1964
Having won the last two World Cups, Brazil were the team to beat at the Taca das Nacoes, a one-off tournament held in 1964 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of Brazilian Football Confederation.
England, Argentina and Portugal were all invited to take part, and the Three Lions showed themselves to be accommodating guests by allowing Brazil to run riot in the opening game. Two goals from Rinaldo and further strikes from Pele, Julinho and Roberto Dias helped the hosts to a 5-1 victory, with Jimmy Greaves notching England’s only effort.
5. Brazil 0-2 England, 1984
John Barnes scored one of England’s greatest ever goals in one of the world’s most iconic stadiums, as Bobby Robson’s charges ran out 2-0 winners at the Maracana. Just before half-time, the Watford winger collected possession on the left flank and immediately went for the heart of the Brazilian backline, magnificently weaving past four defenders before nudging the ball past the goalkeeper and slotting home.
Mark Hateley’s second-half header wasn’t quite as impressive, but this was an impressive result achieved with an England XI also including Mike Duxbury and Mark Chamberlain (whose son Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would 29 years later score at the Maracana himself). It may only have been a friendly, and the mid-1980s weren’t exactly Brazil’s best years, yet an away win against such a footballing powerhouse can never be sniffed at.
4. England 0-0 Brazil, 1958
England’s first ever World Cup meeting with Brazil ended in stalemate and was the first goalless draw in the competition’s history. With a 17-year-old Pele yet to make his tournament debut, Vicente Feola’s front four of Vava, Mazzola, Mario Zagallo and Joel failed to make the breakthrough against England’s defence, while at the other end Brazil’s back four – a novelty in those days – succeeded in keeping out the likes of Bobby Robson and Johnny Haynes.
After drawing their final group game with Austria, England were knocked out by the Soviet Union in a play-off. Brazil, meanwhile, advanced to the knockout rounds, where triumphs over Wales, France and hosts Sweden brought them their first ever Jules Rimet trophy.
3. Brazil 3-1 England, 1962
Seeking to retain their crown in Chile, World Cup holders Brazil advanced to the knockout stage with relative ease, drawing with Czechoslovakia and beating Mexico and Spain in Group 3. England found things a little tougher, but an impressive 3-1 defeat of Argentina was enough for them to squeeze through in second place in their segment.
Walter Winterbottom’s side were no match for Brazil in the last eight, however, as goals from Garrincha (two) and Vava set up a semi-final clash with the hosts three days later. Gerry Hitchens did give England hope when he levelled the scores in the first half, but the Selecao were much the better team and deserved to progress.
2. Brazil 2-1 England, 2002
England’s golden generation sampled their first taste of tournament failure with defeat by Brazil in the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup. In fairness to Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men, there was no shame in losing narrowly to the side who went on to lift the trophy in Japan, but things could have been so different had England gone into the interval with a one-goal lead.
Instead, Rivaldo got Brazil back on level terms in first-half stoppage time, cancelling out Michael Owen’s opener. Then, five minutes after the restart, Ronaldinho lobbed David Seaman with a 30-yard free-kick; the then-PSG playmaker was sent off soon after, but Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side held on for victory.
1. England 0-1 Brazil, 1970
Don’t let the lack of goals fool you: this was a fantastic game of football between two tremendous teams. The holders faced the future champions in the group stage in Mexico, with the winners likely to take top spot and therefore secure – in theory at least – a more straightforward passage to the semi-finals.
Jairzinho scored the only goal just before the hour mark, but there were also chances for Francis Lee, Alan Mullery and Rivellino – not to mention a stunning save from Gordon Banks to deny Pele. Both sides won their final group encounters to advance to the last eight, where England fell to West Germany despite taking a two-goal lead.
Brazil beat Peru and Uruguay to set up a final with Italy, who were thrashed 4-1 at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Many consider the Selecao of 1970 to be the greatest team in the history of the game.