England manager Roy Hodgson was quick to praise the performance of Carlsberg Man of the Match Steven Gerrard after the 1-0 victory against Ukraine at the Donbass Arena.
The England captain, performing the deep-lying midfield role he is getting accustomed to, was once again a driving force for his team. Indeed, it was his teasing cross which played in Wayne Rooney for England's winning goal. It was the Liverpool FC midfielder's third assist of UEFA EURO 2012, the joint highest alongside David Silva and Andrey Arshavin.
"You've got to single Steven out," said Hodgson. "I think to some extent he's been our man of the match throughout all three games. He's played a captain's innings throughout. I was pleased when I heard he got the man of the match because I think he's deserved that – particularly today, but also over the course of the past two games."
Gerrard's night got even better with the news France had lost 2-0 to Sweden, meaning Hodgson's side finish top of Group D. "I always kept belief and confidence [in England's chances] because I know I've got very good players next to me in the dressing room," said Gerrard.
"This was a very difficult group; so far, so good in this tournament. I think we're playing very well and working very hard for each other. We showed that as a team we don't give up and we keep fighting. To be successful in these tournaments, because of the standard of these sides, you need a bit of luck in your favour. If you work hard and keep fighting you earn that luck."
Former France midfielder Christian Karembeu, who presented Gerrard with his award, was struck with the England No4's performance in front of a partisan crowd. "It was impressive how he managed to guide his side to victory," he said. "He was very active, very impressive and very efficient with his passes."
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