World Cup 2010 - Gerrard backs misfiring Rooney

Eurosport - Wed, 23 Jun 18:48:00 2010

England captain Steven Gerrard has backed Wayne Rooney after the striker's World Cup goal drought continued.

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Rooney - who is yet to score at this World Cup in South Africa and has not hit the back of the net for England in eight official games - was bright until coming off injured midway through the second half of the 1-0 win over Slovenia.

However, he missed a superb opportunity to put the game out of sight when he put a finish against the post after getting behind the defence.

"Wayne's had a bit of criticism over the last couple of games but today he worked his socks off and showed his quality," Gerrard told BBC1. "I know goals are around the corner for Wayne Rooney.”

England largely controlled the game - with over 60 per cent possession and nearly three times as many shots on target as Slovenia - but they looked nervous in the latter stages as blocks from John Terry and Matthew Upson prevented a calamitous equaliser.

"When you need to win a game and when you don't finish teams off you're going to be anxious at the end," Liverpool’s Gerrard added, also saying that team morale had improved "100 per cent".

"We thoroughly deserve to go through. I thought all the players that started the game and all the subs were terrific today.

"We need to find consistency now in the knock-out stages.

"I think if we play like we did today and keep listening to the manager and keep delivering what he's asking we've got the quality you need to win football matches, anything can happen."

Upson made a crucial late challenge on Slovenia striker Milivoje Novakovic, who was through on goal before the West Ham defender's timely intervention.

"It was just a bit of a reaction really. The ball got flicked on and a knock down. I just turned inside me and I saw the opportunity to take it," Upson said. "It had to be timed right, it was and I was really pleased.

"It was a reaction more than anything and I'm pleased that I got away with it."

Goalscorer Jermain Defoe added: "At this level it's always going to be difficult. If you look at the other games a lot of the top teams have struggled so it's important to keep the spirit, which we have done, and it showed tonight."


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