FOOTBALL: England skipper Steven Gerrard has told his team not to take Italy for granted in Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final in Kiev.
Roy Hodgson's team avoided a daunting last-eight clash with world and European champions Spain by topping Group D after they defeated Ukraine 1-0 on Tuesday night.
The Italians, on paper at least, appear to offer less threat than Spain, but they are a quality side nonetheless - a point Gerrard is eager to hammer home to his team-mates.
"It was fantastic to top the group and we need to enjoy it now but then dust ourselves down because it will be a very tough game against the Italians," the Liverpool skipper said.
"They are a very tough team to beat. They are good defensively, have got a fantastic keeper in (Gianluigi) Buffon, and they've also got match-winners in the ranks.
"They are similar to us and it will be a very close game. Let's not under-estimate them one little bit. But, if we get that bit of luck and play well, I'm confident we can do well."
England entered the tournament with low expectations, but appear to be growing in confidence. Hodgson's men have scored five goals in three games - with different goalscorers accounting for each - they remain unbeaten and have a defence that aside from the 3-2 win over Sweden has looked solid.
Gerrard concurs that England appear to be showing their potential at a major tournament.
He said: "When the group came out of the hat at the draw, it was evident that it was a very difficult group.
"But in previous tournaments we've underperformed and not delivered for our country. That's why we've gone home early. In this one so far, it's been good.
"A lot of credit has got to be given to this team. I don't think it's a case of us over-performing. We're just performing to the level we're capable of.
"To do well against the teams you come up against here - 16 fantastic teams - you need to play well."
Gerrard also believes that the form of Wayne Rooney, who scored the winner against Ukraine after coming back from a two-match suspension, could prove crucial against Italy.
"Rooney is a fantastic player," Gerrard said. "I know how good he is and how important he is to our country and he showed it against Ukraine... with more game time, he can only get even better."