Mixed fortunes for England duo
James Milner and Darren Bent boarded the plane back from Qatar with England careers heading in opposite directions - one can make plans for the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa while the other will regret the opportunity that got away.
Milner, in the stifling heat of Doha and in the face of Brazil's vastly superior range of talent, demonstrated the intelligence and versatility that surely convinced coach Fabio Capello of his worth next summer.
For Bent, substituted after 54 minutes of fruitless sweat and toil, this was probably his last chance to impress on Capello a talent that works well in the Premier League but has failed to make an impact at England level.
And as he trudged off disconsolately, and in the almost certain knowledge his World Cup hopes were over, it was hard not to sympathise with the Sunderland striker.
Bent worked tirelessly, but starved of service and pushed to the margins as England's stand-in captain Wayne Rooney dropped deep in an attempt to inspire Capello's depleted forces, his "now or never" moment passed him by.
He would have hoped for just one chance to at least make Capello think he could jump the queue in England's preferred strike force that appears to be Rooney, Emile Heskey, Jermain Defoe and one other - probably Peter Crouch, but potentially Carlton Cole.
The shadow of Manchester United's Michael Owen will lurk over Capello's selection process, but his exclusion for this friendly suggests the Italian's mind is made up barring dramatic developments at Old Trafford.
Bent's only serious chance came when he got on the end of a first-half cross from Milner, but his effort lacked power, dropped harmlessly wide and the rest was a tale of honest industry without reward.
It was hardly a golden night for Milner, but he showed enough in an England defeat that was narrow in margin but comfortable in manner for Brazil to suggest he could be an important component in South Africa.
Milner was busy, produced the occasional probing cross and almost gave England an undeserved equaliser when he steered a volley over the top from Shaun Wright-Phillips cross in the second half.
Capello will not be panicked by this defeat. No definitive verdict can be delivered on England's World Cup prospects from a game in which they effectively sent out a shadow side against a Brazil line-up containing many of the big guns they hope will fashion another triumph in South Africa.
England were comfortably second best, but this was only to be expected considering how their team was ravaged by absentees. It does not take huge expertise to deduce that a strong Brazil line-up will usually defeat England's reserves and Capello probably knew as much.
It was effectively a chance for second-string stars to make or break their own personal World Cup aspirations as opposed to a realistic gauge of the standing of Capello's team.
Lonely Bent reflects on his England disappointment
Some fared better than others. Milner looked more suited to the task than Wright-Phillips, who saw plenty of the ball and occasionally threatened, but did not seriously exploit one obvious Brazilian weakness, where Lyon's Michel Bastos was pressed into emergency service at left-back.
Manchester City's winger did not produce anything like enough to suggest he can nose ahead of Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott if they are both fit. He is likely to spend next summer at home.
Ben Foster's potential as an England keeper has been questioned, not least of all here, but he did no harm to his prospects in Doha. He did it not so much with a show of excellence, but by at least avoiding the errors that have dogged his season. He still has work to do, but he did not set his cause back - and that is a source of comfort for Capello.
Foster's Manchester United team-mate Wes Brown produced a mixed bag and did not make a compelling World Cup case. He delivered occasional moments of defensive excellence, but he was caught out (as was Matthew Upson) by Elano's pass that created Nilmar's headed winner after 47 minutes.
And he was guilty of a poor back-pass that let Nilmar in and forced Foster to concede a penalty which Luis Fabiano skied hopelessly. Foster was fortunate to be spared a red card, but the real culprit was Brown.
For Rooney, the chance to mark his temporary appointment as captain with a landmark victory against such illustrious opposition never came. He was effort personified, but with Brazil so much more comfortable in possession, Rooney was always fighting a losing battle.
As were England in the heat of Doha - and for the unfortunate Bent he will fear this was the last chance to make his pitch for a place in South Africa. He is now almost certain to discover his own personal battle has also been lost.
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