5 classic encounters between England and Brazil

England face Brazil on Tuesday night in another high profile friendly at Wembley following Friday’s goalless draw against world champions Germany.

It will be the 26th competitive fixture between the two nations dating back to 1956, with Brazil’s 11 wins stacking up favourably against England’s four.

Here, we take a look at five classic England versus Brazil encounters.

England 4 Brazil 2 (friendly, Wembley, May 1956)

The Duke of Norfolk shakes hands with Stanley Matthews
The Duke of Norfolk shakes hands with Stanley Matthews (PA)

This was the first meeting and a sold-out Wembley was treated to a thriller, in which Sir Stanley Matthews, aged 41, was star of the show. Duncan Edwards made his England debut, but Matthews, back in a Three Lions shirt by public demand, delivered one of his masterclasses and had a hand in all four goals. Tommy Taylor and another debutant, Colin Grainger, scored two each for Walter Winterbottom’s side, with Paulinho and Didi replying for Brazil, while England pair John Atyeo and Roger Byrne both squandered penalties.

Brazil 5 England 1 (Nations’ Cup, Maracana Stadium, May 1964)


Pele by now had taken over from Matthews as the face of world football and he inspired Brazil to their biggest win against England in a four-team tournament to celebrate the Brazilian Football Confederation’s 50th anniversary. In this encounter Pele, who never lost against England, was unstoppable. Jimmy Greaves was on target, but two Rinaldo thunderbolts, another from Pele and further goals from Julinho and Roberto Dias completed the rout. During one purple patch Pele’s brilliance helped set up three goals in five second-half minutes and after the game Greaves remarked: “Pele is on another bloody planet.”

Brazil 1 England 0 (World Cup, Guadalajara, June 1970)

Sir Alf Ramsay’s world champions England played pre-tournament favourites Brazil in the group stages in an iconic match many wanted to see repeated in the final. Bobby Moore at his brilliant best against Pele, Gordon Banks pulling off one of the all-time great saves, substitute Jeff Astle’s glaring miss and Jairzinho’s winner helped make this encounter a classic. England progressed to the quarter-finals only to let slip a 2-0 lead against West Germany, while Brazil, with their toughest match behind them, went on to lift the World Cup for the third time.

Brazil 0 England 2 (friendly, Maracana Stadium, June 1984)

John Barnes

Winger John Barnes scored a stunning solo goal to help England register their first win in Brazil at the eighth attempt and their first against the South Americans in 28 years. Barnes, then at Watford, collected the ball just inside Brazil’s half and set off on a scintillating run, which saw him glide past five defenders before sliding the ball home. It was Barnes’ first goal for England, undoubtedly his best and one of the finest individual efforts seen at the Maracana. He then supplied a deep second-half cross for Mark Hateley to head home the game-clinching goal at the far post.

Brazil 2 England 1 (World Cup, Shizuoka, June 2002)


Ronaldinho’s bizarre free-kick knocked Sven Goran Eriksson’s out of the World Cup in a quarter-final tie in Japan as Brazil’s 10 men held on for a deserved victory. Michael Owen pounced on a defensive error to give England a 23rd-minute lead before Ronaldinho set up Rivaldo for an equaliser from a tight angle on the stroke of half-time. Ronaldinho’s looping free-kick then caught goalkeeper David Seaman off his line and sailed into the top corner early in the second period and although the Brazilian was harshly sent off with 34 minutes left, a strangely subdued England could not respond.

Source: By Press Association Sport staff

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