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06 December 2023

England can beat world's best - Lampard

England's striker Wayne Rooney (left) and midfielder Frank Lampard (second right) high-five as they celebrate Lampard's winning goal with Danny Welbeck (right) during the international friendly against Brazil at Wembley Stadium in London on February 6, 2013. (AFP)


Frank Lampard believes England's 2-1 win over Brazil proves Roy Hodgson's side finally have enough weapons to go head to head with the world's best teams.

After the dour reign of Fabio Capello and a cautious start to the Hodgson era, England claimed their first win over Brazil for 23 years by unveiling an eye-catching brand of attacking play inspired by Hodgson's gifted youngsters and battle-hardened veterans.

With Steven Gerrard anchoring midfield, Jack Wilshere and Tom Cleverley were allowed to surge forward in support of Wayne Rooney, while Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck added pace and power on the flanks.

It was a potent mix that Brazil found too hot to handle at Wembley on Wednesday as Rooney opened the scoring after an incisive attack involving Wilshere and Walcott.

Even when Brazil equalised early in the second half through Fred, Chelsea midfielder Lampard came off the bench to bag the winner on the hour.

Lampard was impressed with the way Hodgson's men took the game to the five-time world champions and he is convinced England now have the right attacking formula to trouble any team in the world.

"The concentration and workrate in midfield, with me, Stevie and Jack was excellent," Lampard said.

"We were a threat going forward and we had pace. If you look at our team now, you can get a bit more excited.

"When you look at what Theo is doing to defences every week, what Wayne is doing and Danny Welbeck, all of a sudden we can hurt teams.

"Brazil have got some fantastic individuals but if you look at our team we have players who can stand up to them.

"In terms of workrate and the chances we created when we won the ball back and moved it quickly, they couldn't handle that."

Wilshere was voted man of the match for a vibrant display that confirmed his return to peak form after the injury woes that ruled him out for 18 months.

And although Lampard's place is likely to be under threat if Wilshere and Cleverley continue to develop at their current rate, he had no qualms about highlighting the Arsenal youngster's growing influence on the national team.

"I know Jack is going to be a top player. Only a terrible injury halted him and he has come back and fitted straight in," Lampard said.

"I don't want to heap silly pressure on him but the way he is performing now it's up to him how far he wants to go. He is going to be a massive player for England for sure."

With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil drawing closer, Lampard is delighted by the way England have progressed since their tame exit from Euro 2012.

The 34-year-old knows England still have work to do to qualify for the finals, but he sees no reason why they can't achieve that aim and travel to South America full of confidence.

"You won't always beat the top teams but if you can go into a World Cup with results like that behind us it will give us confidence," he said.

"You have to be very careful not to get carried away and there are certainly improvements to be made, but this was a nice step in the right direction."

Lampard himself is just focused on making sure he is still involved in the England scene by the time the World Cup comes around.

"It's a target and I will try to play at a good enough level until then. I won't retire from England before then," he added.

Meanwhile, Wilshere admitted England's victory gave him far more pleasure than any personal accolades.

"It's been a good night for me personally but the main thing was the team," he said.

"We defended so well as a team and we know what we can bring up front. They pegged us back once but we showed great character to come back."