Smith hails team effort
Saturday, 29 August, 2009
Kelly Smith says it took a team effort to come from 2-0 down against Russia.
Stuart Mawhinney in Helsinki
England made a remarkable comeback in Helsinki on Friday night, gathering three vital points to keep their Euro 2009 hopes alive, and Kelly Smith says that belief was key.
Having lost the opening game to Italy on Tuesday, defeat would have spelled the end of England's championship and at 2-0 it looked a long way back. But England quickly found their form to stun Russia with a first half turnaround.
Smith, who score a spectacular winning goal and was named player of the match, says that it showed the character of the players to come back from such a situation.
"I'm really proud of the team," Smith explained. "It's about the whole squad and everyone dug deep. Going two goals down is always a tough task, but we stuck together and showed great character. We had a belief.
"We scored three goals in the first half and we're just pleased we've got three points.
"The second half was tough, at times we gave the ball away sloppily and it didn't really feel like we controlled the game like we know we can. But we got there and we're pleased to win."
When asked if she had scored a better goal, Smith's response was that she had not scored a more important one for her country.
"I was just pleased to connect with it, I think the 'keeper mis-kicked it and luckily it fell for me, and I only had one thought in my mind," Smith added.
"Thankfully I put enough on it to get it over her head and it put us into the lead.
"To me, we won the game, it's not about the goal. It's about the team winning and staying in this competition. That was crucial and we said at half time that we didn't want to go home. We feel we are good enough."
There was still time for incredible drama in the closing minutes as Jess Clarke went close to putting England beyond Russia's reach, then with the last kick of the game England almost conceded an equaliser.
"I think if we had scored another goal Russia's heads might have gone down," Smith explained. "Jess Clarke had a close chance near the end, and I think if that had gone in it would have been game over.
"They had a shot with the final kick of the game that went close, so it was hearts beating hard for everyone.
"We certainly feel that we can go out and perform against Sweden, there's a lot of confidence and self belief that we can do that."