England 1 Ukraine 0: Gerrard pleased with improving displays

Steven Gerrard says England are answering their critics after they booked a Euro 2012 quarter-final spot with victory over Ukraine

England
1
Ukraine
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Steven Gerrard believes England are responding to the criticism levelled at the national team in recent years with their steady progress at Euro 2012.

Wayne Rooney nodded home from close range to hand Roy Hodgson’s men victory over co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk as the Three Lions reached the quarter-finals as group winners to set up a clash with Italy on Sunday.

And Gerrard, who delivered the cross for Rooney’s winner, says England’s displays are gradually improving in Poland and Ukraine.

“[We’ve found] a better level of performance,” he told ITV1. “We’ve been criticised in the past for maybe not turning up at times and under-performing. We can take that – we’re man enough to take criticism – the important thing is that you respond and that you react.

“When you get criticism it’s not nice and you need to respond and try and play better and that’s what we’re doing.”

The England captain added: “We came into this difficult group and the idea was to try and win it. No one believed in us at the start and we’re gaining momentum at the right time.

“I don’t think tonight’s performance was fantastic but we got the job done. We stuck together and worked hard and we won 1-0 against a good team.”

Ukraine should have been awarded an equaliser when Marko Devic’s shot crossed the line after Rooney had put England ahead but the referee waved play on as John Terry scooped the ball clear.

And Gerrard admits that any side looking to triumph at a major tournament must benefit from some good fortune.

“You need a bit of luck along the way,” he continued. “You don’t do well at these competitions without a bit of luck, it doesn’t matter how good you are or how well you play, you need that little bit of luck along the way and let’s hope we get a bit more.”

Gerrard also reserved praise for match-winner Rooney after he marked his return from suspension with a goal.

He added: “If he keeps scoring those tap-ins for us then he can take us a long way in this competition. We’ll settle for them, they’re just as important as the 30-yarders. I said before how important he is to the team and he proved that tonight.”

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