(CNN) -- A second half goal from Nilmar gave Brazil to a 1-0 victory over an understrength England in a prestige friendly international in Doha on Saturday.
The slender margin of defeat flattered England, with Luis Fabiano missing a penalty shortly after the breakthrough goal and Brazil captain Lucio crashing a shot against the post.
In uncomfortable heat in the Qatar capital, Brazil always had the edge against and England team missing John Terry, his defensive partners Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole and midfield stars Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.
Wayne Rooney was handed the captaincy armband by Fabio Capello and gave a wholehearted performance, nearly giving his side the lead in the opening moments as he just failed to get a touch on an inviting cross by Shaun Wright-Phillips.
But there were few other attacking moments for England in the first half and their goal was twice threatened as stand-in central defender Matthew Upson twice lost possession in dangerous positions.
A shot screwed wide by Felipe Melo and Nilmar's failure to find a teammate with his cross left his mistakes unpunished.
England goalkeeper Ben Foster was also forced to make saves from Michel Bastos and the influential Kaka.
Capello would have been happy to see his makeshift men go into the break still level but the effort was undone in the 46th minute as Elano's clever cross underlined poor marking and Nilmar stepped in to head past Foster.
England should have fallen two behind after Wes Brown's mistake left Fabiano clear and he was brought down by his Manchester United teammate Foster.
He was lucky to escape a red card but then watched as Fabiano made a woeful hash of the penalty.
James Milner had a half-chance at the far post from another Wright-Phillips before Lucio found space to thump a shot which beat Foster and crashed against the post.
England at least pressed in the closing stages but could not forge a clear chance against the five-time World Cup winners.
Capello attempted to put a brave face on a lackluster display by his men.
"I think we played against a Brazil team who have the best XI in the world," he told ITV Sport.
"My first XI will be better than this one. But I found a lot of things positive."
European champions Spain beat Diego Maradona's Argentina 2-1 in an action-packed friendly at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid.
Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso scored two goals -- including an 86th-minute penalty -- to secure a home victory.
Spain took the lead in the 16th minute after Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved David Silva's angled shot only for Alonso to capitalize on the rebound.
Lionel Messi equalized with a penalty just after the hour mark after Raul Albiol had been fouled.
But Martin Demichelis handled in his own penalty area with four minutes left and Alonso netted the winner.
Another prestige friendly saw World Cup title holders Italy and the Netherlands draw 0-0 in Pescara in a game of few chances.
Home goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon became the fourth player to win 100 caps for Italy as he kept a clean sheet.