Steven Gerrard believes England need to retain possession of the ball for longer periods if they are to make an impact in the World Cup finals.
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Skipper Gerrard’s late goal against Poland at Wembley confirmed a 2-0 win and England’s progress to Brazil 2014, but he said there was room for improvement after the Poles had created some dangerous openings.
“The big lesson from tonight is we have got to play better second half,” he told ITV. “Against better teams, maybe we might get hurt.
“We need to keep the ball better in the opposition half when it gets tough, but what we showed tonight is that when it gets tough we don’t concede goals. We are getting better defensively.”
Gerrard said he had felt the pressure of trying to lead Roy Hodgson’s side to the World Cup finals, but added that media criticism during the qualifying campaign was nothing new.
“Since I made my debut for England, there has always been criticism from the outside, but it makes you stronger, makes you work harder to prove people wrong,” he added.
“We know there is a great togetherness in the squad, and that’s all that matters really. We fight for each other and, under tremendous pressure, we have proved we can perform.
“That was for our supporters, who can go and get themselves booked for Brazil now.”
Man of the match Wayne Rooney suggested patience had been the key to England’s victory, with his opening goal calming a few nerves at Wembley just before half time.
“A big part of our preparations was being patient,” the Manchester United striker said. “We maintained our concentration and focus and fully deserved the win.
“We have always remained positive, no matter what has been said. We had a great focus and believe about ourselves.
“Going into these two games there was a lot of belief amongst the players and the manager, and we have gone out and showed that we are good team.
“We have some fantastic young players in the team and some good experienced players as well. We are excited. These are good times for England.”