Wednesday 20 June 2012

Gerrard focused on Italy test

England captain plays down significance of avoiding Spain in quarter-finals

Steven Gerrard set up Wayne Rooney's goal in England's 1-0 win over Ukraine

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard insists that England will not underestimate Italy when the two sides meet in the UEFA Euro 2012 quarter-final in Kiev on Sunday.

England’s 1-0 victory over Ukraine saw them finish top of Group D ahead of France, while Italy were runners-up in Group C behind Spain.

But England captain Gerrard played down the significance of avoiding world and European champions Spain in the last eight.

"The good thing is that we’re there and we’re not travelling home"
- England manager Roy Hodgson

"Italy is not going to be an easy game for us," said the Liverpool captain, who set up Wayne Rooney’s winning goal against Ukraine in Donetsk.

"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 are just going to concentrate on our next match."

England manager Roy Hodgson admitted that facing Spain in the quarter-finals would have been a daunting prospect.

"I’d have been quite happy to play the Spanish, but I’d rather miss them because they are the favourites alongside Germany," said Hodgson.

"I think this team of ours would have given Spain a pretty good run for their money.

"The good thing is that we’re there and we’re not travelling home. There was not one person in our group who wanted to be on that plane."

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Key Points

  • England face Italy in last eight in Kiev on Sunday
  • Winning Group D means England avoid Spain
  • England or Italy could face Germany in semi-finals