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Diego denies England Wembley win

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WEMBLEY, England -- Brazil substitute Diego snatched an injury-time equalizer to earn a 1-1 Wembley draw on Friday but the England fans still went home happy from the new stadium after a memorable comeback from former captain David Beckham.

The return of Beckham after 11 months in the international wilderness was the main talking point before the match.

And the Real Madrid man did not disappoint, going off to a standing ovation 10 minutes after delivering the pin-point free kick for current captain John Terry to head England into a 68th-minute lead.

The home defense was caught napping at the end when Gilberto Silva swung in a cross which free-scoring Werder Bremen midfielder Diego headed on the bounce beyond goalkeeper Paul Robinson.

Though deprived of victory, England, coming off a series of poor results, will take heart from the way they grew in confidence as the game progressed and will aim to show more of the same in Wednesday's Euro 2008 qualifier in Estonia.

"Football is a cruel game and sometimes you don't get what you deserve," England coach Steve McClaren told reporters.

"But the key thing was this was a very positive performance. We looked a team, we kept our shape and the attitude was right. We defended well and now the most important thing is Wednesday.

After all the fanfare for the first international at the new 90,000-seater stadium, the first half was a disappointment as both sides were cagey and lacked adventure.

Gilberto denied

Brazil, who had a Gilberto header ruled out for offside, failed to test Robinson while England's best moment came when Beckham, in his first England appearance since last year's World Cup quarterfinal defeat by Portugal, curved a free kick just wide.

Unlike in many previous England friendlies, there was no mass halftime changing of the guard and the second period was played at a better tempo.

Ronaldinho stung Robinson's hands with a deflected shot, Kaka drove just wide while it was just like old times at the other end as Michael Owen, another returnee after an injury-wrecked season, glanced a header just over from a Beckham free kick.

It was another Beckham delivery from his favourite area on the right that broke the deadlock as Chelsea skipper Terry, who lifted the FA Cup here two weeks ago, outjumped Naldo to head firmly past goalkeeper Helton.

When Terry was taken off soon after, his replacement Wes Brown slipped making his first touch, but was relieved when Alfonso put the gift just wide.

England rode their luck on a couple more occasions but just when it seemed they would chalk up their first win against Brazil in seven meetings spanning 17 years, Diego struck.

"Despite trailing we were brave enough to react but the pitch did not help," said Brazil coach Dunga.

"Players like Robinho and Kaka are very fast but the conditions did not allow them to accelerate."

Diego floated in unmarked to head in Gilberto Silva's cross in stoppage time.



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