England boss Roy Hodgson heaped praise on match-winner Wayne Rooney after his second-half header sealed a Euro 2012 quarter-final meeting with Italy following a 1-0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk.
The Manchester United forward, back after completing his two-game suspension, had earlier missed a golden opportunity but did not let that affect him and has now scored 29 goals for England - just one behind Nat Lofthouse, Tom Finney and Alan Shearer, who are joint fifth on the all-time list.
"He's got character, hasn't he?" Hodgson said of his talisman. "Those who have followed England and Manchester United, even Everton, you know what Rooney is, what he can do and his qualities. He showed them in abundance tonight. He and (Danny) Welbeck worked extremely hard."
Hodgson had played down the length of Rooney's absence. However, after appearing for just 37 minutes since his final game for United on May 13, the England coach was delighted he almost got through the entire match.
"It was his first game after having to sit these two others out, and it is a while since he played a competitive match, so he's got to be happy with the way things went for him," said Hodgson.
"Every day helps him and helps us. The fact he's had 80 minutes in this game will give him confidence going into the next game."
Hodgson was eager to spread the praise though, especially as skipper Steven Gerrard collected the man-of-the-match award after delivering the cross for Rooney's goal.
"You've got to single Steven out," he said. "He has built up to this man of the match award in the previous two games as well, playing a captain's innings throughout.
"The back four were very good today, and the goalkeeper, they kept their shape and discipline extremely well.
"Although there were shots at our goal, they were from distance and didn't really necessitate (Joe) Hart to make saves. It was a game to praise the team performance."
Updated 20/06/2012 06:47:20