Gerrard admits relief as England reach World Cup

England captain Steven Gerrard has shared his relief that Roy Hodgson’s side have reached the 2014 World Cup without incident, BBC Sport has reported, after the Liverpool midfielder scored the second goal in the decisive 2-0 win over Poland.

Wayne Rooney opened the scoring late in the first-half but England were unable to seal the necessary three points until Gerrard’s 88th minute intervention guaranteed victory and with it, first place. Ukraine beat San Marino 8-0 but were still condemned to second place in Group H, a point adrift of the Three Lions.

England set up qualification by beating Montenegro 4-1 at Wembley on Friday evening, but Gerrard admitted the time between that result and the Poland fixture was excruciating for the squad, who were eager to play the pivotal match. “It has been a long couple of days since Friday. We had a lot of time to kill,” Gerrard said.

The tension has been immense, even in the game,” the skipper continued. “At the back of your mind, you are thinking one mistake could put us in the play-offs. It was a relief, it was very emotional at times. We have had a lot of criticism, so to get over the line was a lot of relief.

Gerrard added that the criticism of which he spoke has at times been a spur to improve, and has been ever-present since he made his senior international debut against Ukraine in May 2000. “Since I made my debut for England we’ve always been under criticism,” the 33-year-old said, “But it makes you stronger. That win was for the supporters who can now go and book for Brazil.

The match with Poland was Gerrard’s 107th England appearance since making his debut more than 13 years ago, with his late goal the 21st of his international career.

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