Montenegro v England: Steven Gerrard hails performance and discipline of Wayne Rooney
Manchester United scored the opening goal of the game
Wednesday 27 March 2013
England skipper Steven Gerrard hailed the performance and discipline shown by Wayne Rooney in helping secure a vital point from the World Cup qualifier with Montenegro in Podgorica.
Rooney scored for the fourth successive qualifier in last night's 1-1 draw - the first England player to achieve that feat since David Beckham 10 years ago.
The Manchester United striker had been sent off on his last appearance in the stadium 17 months ago but his behaviour ensured a repeat was never likely to happen.
Gerrard said: "Wayne is a fantastic player and a great goalscorer. If the lads in the team can create the service for Wayne, we know he will score goals.
"He also deserves credit for that goalscoring record. Hopefully he will get more goals and fire us to the World Cup.
"I also thought his behaviour was magnificent. He had been on the agenda in the press all week with people wondering how he was going to behave.
"I thought he handled himself magnificently and got us that important goal."
Rooney's goal was his 35th for his country and he is now only five behind fourth-placed Michael Owen in the all-time list of England goalscorers.
But his header failed to secure victory as Montenegro staged a second half revival to equalise through substitute Dejan Damjanovic and remain two points clear of England.
Gerrard said: "At half-time we were very happy. We were in control and we played very well for 45 minutes.
"Then for some reason we stopped playing after the break and we let Montenegro back into the game.
"We finished the game really strongly but we are disappointed with the 30 minutes in the second half when we let them back into the game.
"We should have taken control. You need to get that second goal at this level otherwise you are inviting them onto you.
"But credit to them, they kept pushing and pushing and we have to hold our hands up and say they deserved an equaliser."
Gerrard added: "There is an element of frustration there but this result is not the end of the world. It is still in our hands.
"We are disappointed with periods of the game but we are also very happy with the first-half performance. If we can get that for 90 minutes, we believe we can still qualify.
"We will have to wait and see how the other teams do in their fixtures but we are more than capable of winning the last four matches."
Gerrard went close to winning the game for England in the closing stages with a volley and a free-kick.
He said: "I caught the volley too well. They are the ones you want to mis-hit because then they usually go in!"
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