Pearce hails England's character
Monday, 15 June, 2009
The Under-21 Head Coach was full of praise for his young side.
Stuart Pearce hailed England's brave Young Lions after the ten men defied their numerical disadvantage to win their opening Group B clash against Finland.
Michael Mancienne was sent off and Finland scored from the spot after Lee Cattermole had opened the scoring, but England showed the Senior team they can battle with the best of them as Micah Richards scored a crucial match-winner in the second half.
"We showed courage. We are oozing courage, commitment and character," Pearce said. "We have character in abundance but now we must couple that with ability.
"The standard must improve but we will get on that coach with three points and I am pleased and delighted."
It all looked to be going according to plan for Pearce's men when Cattermole cooly slotted home on 15 minutes but then Chelsea ace Mancienne fouled Berat Sadik inside the box, giving referee Cuneyt Cakir no choice but to send him off and award Finland a penalty.
Former Southampton star Tim Sparv stepped up and send Joe Hart the wrong way to level it for Finland but through sheer grit and determination, England battled on with ten men and heroically grabbed a winner thanks to Richards' brilliant header after 53 minutes.
"I thought we could win the game when it was 1-1 and I was proved right. It does not matter how you win games in tournament football, as long as you win," Pearce added.
"We got our noses in front and we did not stop. We passed the ball well and today was a great lesson in showing character for all the youngsters."
Match-winning hero Richards hobbled off with an injury and is now facing a fight to be fit for the clash with Spain on Thursday.
"I have no idea about Micah. We will let the medical people take over now - that is what they get paid to do. It was physically and mentally demanding for us out there," Pearce added.