KEIR RADNEDGE in DONETSK: England manager Roy Hodgson was full of praise for almost everyone after the 1-0 win over Ukraine which propelled his team into the quarter-finals of the 2012 European Championship and a quarter-final against Italy.
How do you feel about facing Italy where you worked for Inter?
I haven’t given that much thought because tonight has been such an exciting game. We had to work very hard to make sure we got through. I shall be pleased to play Italy and have contact again with many Italian friends but at the moment I just want to talk about tonights game.
Have you exceeded expectations?
We’ve talked enough about this. What is more important is to talk about the team has conducted itself. We’ve enjoyed every minute of it and so have the fans – though they have found themselves in a big minority. I think 4,000 to 29,000 in Kiev then 4,000 to 56,000 tonight. They’ve made a fantastic effort to support us – as well as the people back home because we get are getting good vibrations.
It’s not a question of expectations. We just want to keep gong and enjoy the tournament as long as we can and who knows where it will take us?
Certainly it wasn’t an easy group to win because Ukraine have a lot of good players and did what they had to do to put us under pressure; France lost for the first time in 23 matches; and Sweden ended France’s run so we didn’t have it easy.
How do you feel about the luck of the goal Ukraine had disallowed?
I think John Terry did so well to hook the ball off the line. Even with slow motion sometimes you cannot be 100pc certain. If it was over the line – as if appears it probably was – that was a slice of luck on our part but we have suffered in the past, against Portugal in 2004 and Germany two years ago, so perhaps it was simply a case that if there was luck, we got it.
What about the negative pressures on your team?
After Fabio Capello resigned it took a while before a new coach was appointed and people thought we would not have enough time to prepare but we’ve proved that wrong and I’m pleasd about that.
I’ve also been delighted with the way both countries, Ukraine and Poland, have conducted this tournament. The biggest issue before we came was how dangerous this would be. So we lost of lot of fans who were put off by the horror stories and I feel sorry for them because all the people who’ve come can’t speak highly enough about the tournament and we’ve been treated with great courtesy and kindness everywhere and I hope that continues as long as we continue in this competition.
How did you rate Wayne Rooney’s performance?
He’s got character. All of you who have followed England and Manchester United and even Everton before, know what Rooney is and what he can do and his qualities and he showed them in abundance. He put in an extremely disciplined performance. He and Welbeck worked extremely hard.
It was his first game, though I’ve played played it down somewhat, so he’s got to be pretty happy with the way things went for him. Every day helps him and helps us so having 80 minutes will help him go into the game with Italy with more confidence.
And Steven Gerrard?
Steven has been voted man of the match and he’s been our man of the match in all three games. He’s played a captain’s innings throughout. Our back four kept their shape extremely well and though Ukraine had plenty of shots there weren’t that many that caused Joe Hart trouble. But I was really pleased Steven got man of the match because he’s built up to it in the previous two games.
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