KYIV: England manager Roy Hodgson put a brave face on his team’s latest shootout defeat in a major tournament but insisted that at no time was there any temptation to try to hold out for a penalty shootout.
Was there ever any question of just hanging on in the game?
We worked as hard as we could. We survived the cramps and physical problems of one or two players so whether we did enough or it was good enough is a matter of opinion but we certainly tried to win it during the 90 minutes and then the 30 minutes of extra time. There was never any question of playing for penalties
Our defence was resolute. We did very well – especially during the second half and the second half of extra time – to hold out and give ourselves a chance but it was a chance we couldn’t take.
Were you happy, in hindsight, with the penalty takers you chose?
You can’t reproduce in training the tension, the occasion and the nervousness . . . the sort of cool calculated way that Pirlo chipped the goalkeeper, either you have that as a player or you don’t and no amount of training or coaching can reproduce that.
You saw Ashley Cole take a penalty for Chelsea in the Champions League Final and you’ve seen Ashley Young score plenty over the last few seasons.
We were confident we had five very good penalty takers but unfortunately two missed.
Are you satisfied Italy deserved to win?
There were chances missed at both end. I wouldn’t begrudge Italy their victory but for long periods it was an interesting tactical battle and relatively even because they didn’t get in behind us on that many occasions.
Unfortunately, when we got in behind them we don’t as well with the balls as we should have done.
We put up a very good effort and had we won it we wouldn’t be apologising for the result.
General feelings about match?
It’s a sad moment. Press conferences are very different to do after a defeat. The support from the fans was incredible from the very first minute to the 120th and the support from back home has buoyed us all so it’s made defeat on penalties ever harder because we so much wanted to stay on and reward the fans for all the support they’ve given us.
I couldn’t ask any more than the players gave – they gave their all – but in the end we went down the same road we’ve gone down so many times before.
General feelings about the tournament?
It’s been a fantastic tournament for us. We’ve been really impressed by the Donetsk and Kyiv. We’ve had magnificent receptions and played in magnificent stadia and in our base camp in Poland it’s been the same thing. We’ve had such kindness and support and, on that aspect, will go away from the tournament with a very good feeling.
We also lost the powerhouse of our team for a long period in the game from midway in the second half. Scott Parker was feeling his Achilles injury and Steven Gerrard was fighting off cramp in a hip and calf. These things happen. We’ve had three very tough games and been very happy to come through them and at least we go away having been unbeaten during normal time . . . but we go away because we couldn’t win a penalty shootout.
How do you assess the team as the tournament comes to end for England?
I’ve been very happy with the way the players responded to the demands of wearing the England shirt. They showed they are capable of stepping up to the plate. They are bitterly disappointed that they couldn’t take it one step further but we have some very good young playera and this tournament has been very useful for some of them.
Also it’s good to see players of quality of John Terry, Joleon Lescott and Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard are still more than capable of helping the team through a tournament like this and qualify for the next. If the fans get behid the team we have a much bigger chance than maybe on occasions when the mood about the team has been quite negative.
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