Steven Gerrard believes England are slowly hitting form at the right time after securing top spot in Group D with a 1-0 defeat of Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine.
Gerrard provided the assist as the returning Wayne Rooney headed home from point-blank range for the winner just after half-time and he feels an unheralded squad can continue to improve. England now face Italy in the quarter-final on Sunday.
He told ITV1: 'It was a difficult group and the idea was to try and win it. No-one believed in us at the start but we're gaining momentum at the right time.
Going through: Gerrard celebrates with Joe Hart and Co after England's win against Ukraine
'I don't think tonight's performance was fantastic, but we stuck together, got the job done and won 1-0 against a good team.
'We've been criticised in the past maybe for not turning up, under-performing and we can take that, we're man enough. But you saw a reaction.
'When you get criticised it's not nice and you have to react by playing better and I think that's what we did.'
Cities & Stadiums
The Top 3 Teams of Previous Tournaments
|2008||Spain||Germany||Russia / Turkey|
|2004||Greece||Portugal||Netherlands / Czech Republic|
|2000||France||Italy||Netherlands / Portugal|
|1996||Germany||Czech Republic||France / England|
|1992||Denmark||Germany||Netherlands / Sweden|
|1988||Netherlands||Soviet Union||Italy / West Germany|
|1984||France||Spain||Denmark / Portugal|
|1972||West Germany||Soviet Union||Belgium|