Steven Gerrard believes England are gathering momentum at UEFA EURO 2012 after they advanced to a quarter-final against Italy as Group D winners thanks to a hard-earned 1-0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine. "We're gaining momentum as we go along," said the captain, while there was delight for Wayne Rooney after his first tournament goal since 2004 on his return to the team.
We came into this group, a difficult group, and the idea was to try and win it. No one believed in us at the start, but we're gaining momentum as we go along. The performance wasn't fantastic but we worked hard and got the result. Wayne Rooney's goal was a tap-in but if he keeps scoring tap-ins for us, we'll go a long way. He is important to the team and the nation.
We found a better level of performance. We have been criticised in the past, we can take that but you've seen the reaction. It is not nice to be criticised but you need to respond. We'll take each game as it comes. The Italians are next, they're very strong defensively. You need a bit of luck to do well in these competitions. Let's hope we get a bit more along the way.
Joe Hart, England goalkeeper
We've listened to the support of these magnificent people today, the brilliant people at home have wished us well and we're just really proud. Wayne Rooney returned and scored a goal like Wayne Rooney does, because that's the type of player he is. We can achieve what we came here to achieve, you know – we came to win games. France was a tough start, yet we felt we could've won it; now we've won these last two games.
Wayne Rooney, England forward
I'm delighted with the win and to score. It's great as I haven't scored at a major tournament for a while and the whole team was fantastic and we defended really well in front of a difficult crowd, but we deserved to win.
James Milner, England midfielder
We knew it was a tough group – playing one of the host nations is always difficult and Sweden have shown what a strong team they are, especially tonight – but to come through it and finish top is pleasing. We've got a great bunch of players, we work very hard together, we're very well organised. We haven't been together that long as a squad or under a new manager so it is pleasing we are improving and the more time we spend together we will get stronger and stronger.
It was a good performance, in the first half they put us under a lot of pressure and had the crowd behind them, they're a good team but we managed to stay compact and restrict them to long-range efforts really and create chances for ourselves in the second half.
Joleon Lescott, England defender
We know Wayne's an outstanding talent and one of the best in the world in his position, so we were always going to have a chance with him in the team, and I think that Steven Gerrard's performance tonight again showed what a world-class player he is. Stevie's one of those players that you can look up to, and look at his performances and try and gain something from them, the way he goes about his business, so we know that at any given stage players like that can create something.
It's nice to get to the knockout stages, but we're not thinking now we've done our bit and got out of the group stage, we want to continue to progress and get as far as we can in this.
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