Rooney lauds 'brilliant' Gerrard

Steven Gerrard (left) put in a man-of-the-match display against Ukraine

Steven Gerrard (left) put in a man-of-the-match display against Ukraine

First published in National Sport © by

Goal hero Wayne Rooney hailed a world-class performance from skipper Steven Gerrard as England reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 with a 1-0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk.

Rooney returned from suspension to decide the outcome with the only goal early in the second period - his first in tournament football for eight years spanning 10 games. But the supplier was Gerrard who turned in another man of the match display to help set up a last-eight meeting with Italy.

Rooney said: "Steven's delivery has been exceptional in this tournament. He's a world-class player and I thought tonight he was really brilliant. He drove us on at times. We're lucky to have a player like that in the team."

Rooney was delighted to settle the outcome after being banned for the opening two games against France and Sweden.

He said: "It was great to get three points and its always a great feeling to score. My overall game could have been a bit better but it was my first game for a while.

"The one thing I was delighted with was that I was always putting myself in goalscoring opportunities. I could have done better with a couple more but I got the goal and its three points."

Rooney celebrated the goal in bizarre fashion by pretending to spray his hair.

He explained: "I used Andy Carroll's hair product and before the game he asked me to do it if I scored - and so I did it."

England have avoided a meeting with defending champions Spain by topping their group but Gerrard has warned England that Italy will provide a stern test.

He said: "People say we've avoided Spain but I don't want to underestimate the Italians. Italy isn't going to be an easy game. Spain are a fantastic team, sure, but our plan was to finish top of the group. Now we're going to concentrate on the next match, which is Italy."


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