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Early breakthrough vital - Gerrard

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22 Mar 2013 08:17:20

Early breakthrough vital - Gerrard

Captain Steven Gerrard has stressed the importance of England striking early against minnows San Marino in this evening's World Cup qualifier.

Gerrard can still recall the Euro 2008 qualifier against rank outsiders Andorra in Barcelona when England were ridiculed by their own fans after a goalless first half before winning 3-0. Now they visit San Marino, who are the FIFA's worst ranked team with only one victory ever - against Liechtenstein in 2004.

England defeated their opponents 5-0 at Wembley earlier in the season but Gerrard acknowledged: "The pressure grows (against such sides) and the fans get frustrated which adds to the pressure. Then you get more tense, so it's about us getting that breakthrough as early as we can."

He added: "We know they will be happy to stop us and keep the scoreline down.

"They'll slow the game down, give stupid fouls away, get onto the referee - basically do anything they can to stop us scoring.

"I am sure their plan will stay the same for 90 minutes - it certainly did at Wembley. But in any case, if we don't win the game by more than four goals, we'll get it (criticism) anyway."

England head coach Roy Hodgson has painful memories of an international upset from his time as Switzerland boss to help ensure tonight's game will not be taken for granted.

"There was a lot of euphoria about Switzerland getting to the 1994 World Cup finals," the 65-year-old said.

"We thought would get off to a good start before heading to the finals by arranging a nice friendly at home to Liechtenstein.

"We played the match in Basle, who were getting big crowds even though they were in the second division at the time, and we got booed off the field after nicking it 1-0 with a late goal."


PA

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