Hodgson Hails Rooney Return
England manager Roy Hodgson has heaped praise on Wayne Rooney after he returned from suspension to score the winner in the 1-0 victory over Ukraine which clinched top spot in Group D at the 2012 Euros.
The Three Lions will avoid Spain in the quarter-finals by virtue of finishing top of their group and will now meet Italy on Sunday, while Group D’s second-placed side France take on the reigning European champions.
The England striker had missed his side’s first two matches after being red card in the final game of qualifying, but returned in style, earning praise from the manager.
“[Rooney’s] got character, hasn’t he? You know what Rooney is, you know what Rooney can do. You know his qualities, and once again tonight he showed them in abundance,” Hodgson told reporters after the game.
Rooney’s return and impact will give England a lot of confidence heading into their quarterfinal with Italy, as the striker appeared short of his best at times, lacking touch and sharpness, but Hodgson is adamant he’ll be better for the hit-out.
“He put in an extremely disciplined performance. I thought he and [Danny] Welbeck worked extremely hard and, of course, although I’ve played this down to some extent, it is a while since he played a competitive match, so he’s got to be happy with how it went,” Hodgson added.
“We think every day helps him and helps us. And the fact he’s had 80 minutes in this game will help him feel he can go into the next game with more confidence.”
“There are five referees on the pitch and the ball is 50cm behind the goal-line. Why do we need five officials?” he said.
“They don’t spot (Andy) Carroll’s elbow, either? Or that (John) Terry fouls one of my players in the back? (Pierluigi) Collina told us that every movement with an elbow is a card, and every foul from behind is a yellow card. And yet where was that today?
“You write what you want – you’ve seen it. I don’t want to criticise the referee.”
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