Euro 2012: Steven Gerrard warns against Italy complacency
England captain Steven Gerrard has warned his team-mates that the Euro 2012 quarter-final against Italy on Sunday will be a massive test.
The Liverpool midfielder produced a man-of-the-match performance as England beat Ukraine 1-0 to top Group D and avoid a last-eight meeting with world and European champions Spain.
Wayne Rooney England striker
“We're lucky to have a player like Steven Gerrard in the team”
Gerrard, however, warned against underestimating the Azzurri in Kiev.
"Italy is not going to be an easy game for us," the England captain 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 are just going to concentrate on our next match."
England goalkeeper Joe Hart admitted thoughts had already turned to Sunday's game and spoke of the importance of belief.
"We've won the group and have a big game against Italy now. We've got to go there believing in ourselves. There's no point in playing them if we don't think we can beat them and move forward in this competition."
Hart's Manchester City team-mate James Milner admitted Italy would provide England with their biggest challenge of the tournament so far.
"These are the strongest teams in Europe and you have to work hard to stop them playing football," he said.
"We're very organised and have dangerous players. I'll be giving Mario Balotelli a bit of banter, and hopefully we can keep him quiet."
Gerrard was at the heart of everything good about England in Donetsk, laying on Wayne Rooney's goal with a clever run and cross and winning the midfield battle.
The Manchester United striker paid tribute to his captain, admitting he had driven England on all night.
“Ukraine played football which I'd like to see England play. We gave everything but it was not a great performance”
"Steven's delivery has been exceptional in this tournament," Rooney said.
"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's goal, his first in a major international tournament for eight years, settled his nerves after he missed the opening two matches of the tournament through suspension. "My overall game could have been a bit better but it was my first game for a while," he said.
"The one thing I was delighted with was that I was always putting myself in with goalscoring opportunities. I could have done better with a couple more but I got the goal."
Rooney's goal had more than a touch of fortune about it, with Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov spilling Gerrard's twice-deflected cross. England also rode their luck when the officials failed to spot that Marko Devic's shot had crossed the goalline before being cleared by John Terry.
"To be successful in these tournaments, because of the standard of teams involved, you need that bit of luck going with you. Two years ago we didn't get that luck with Frank Lampard's goal, a big turning point in that World Cup game against Germany, and we ended up packing our bags and going home.
"Today the luck turned. But it just shows that, if you keep working hard and keep fighting, you earn that luck. We deserved it today."