England 1 Ukraine 0: Roy Hodgson happy to exceed expectations
Roy Hodgson concedes England have exceeded his expectations by winning Group D at Euro 2012 with victory over Ukraine
Roy Hodgson admitted his England side have exceeded his expectations at Euro 2012 after they moved into the quarter-finals as Group D winners with victory over Ukraine.
Wayne Rooney nodded Steven Gerrard’s cross home from close range shortly after the interval to hand Hodgson’s men their second victory in Poland and Ukraine.
England will now face Italy for a place in the semi-finals on Sunday after France were beaten 2-0 by Sweden in the other Group D tie.
“Yes [we exceeded my expectations]. I think that they [the players] have been really good from the start,” Hodgson told ITV1. “If someone said we were going to win the group I don’t think they’d have had too many takers. Most people seemed to think we wouldn’t get out of the group.
“But we’ve won it and we’ve won it by points rather than goal difference, and it gives us an extra day’s rest that we’re badly in need of.”
Hodgson praised his side for producing a resilient performance when it counted against the co-hosts, even if the Three Lions were somewhat fortunate to avoid being pegged back in the second half as replays showed Marko Devic’s shot had crossed the line.
“It was a really hard game for us tonight,” he continued. “This was an away game with a capital ‘A’. There were 60,000 people in the stadium and only 4,000 very brave Englishmen so we didn’t have too much going for us in that respect.
“I thought it was a really good defensive and disciplined performance and when we needed a bit of luck – the ball may have crossed the line – we got that bit of luck and were able to carry on and actually win the match.”
Hodgson praised Rooney’s input after the Manchester United striker marked his return from suspension with the crucial goal.
The England manager added: “He played well, he worked very hard and he could have had several other goals as well because he got himself into very good positions.”
But Hodgson knows there is room for collective improvement when his side take on Cesare Prandelli’s Italy on Sunday.
“We weren’t really showing enough composure on the ball when we broke out and that’s still something that I still think we can work on and improve,” he said.
“I thought on the counter-attack we were dangerous enough but we can be even more dangerous than we were today.
“But this is a fledgling team as far as I’m concerned. We’ve not been working together for very long.”