Pearce bullish despite draw

Manager Stuart Pearce insisted his England side could handle the pressure of its must-win European Under-21 championship clash with Czech Republic despite watching it produce another disappointing draw.

Only victory will do in this weekend's final Group B game if Pearce's Young Lions are to avoid crashing out of the tournament and they will need to improve dramatically on this goalless clash with Ukraine if they are to progress to the semi-finals.

But Pearce was typically bullish about England's hopes of avoiding an early exit, saying: "We go into the game Sunday having to win to go through but our destiny is in our own hands.

"This is why you bring players to tournaments, to perform under pressure.

"We've had two games against two really tough sides. We've come out of that, we've conceded one goal.

"It's all to play for once again. We go into the last game and everyone's in the mix."

Ukraine was inferior to England's opening opponent, Spain, but many of the same failings were in evidence in Herning.

Pearce said: "We were up against a very good side.

"We came out of the Spain game [1-1 draw] and there were one or two suggestions that we didn't play so well.

"And the Spanish then go out and beat the Czechs quite comprehensively [2-0].

"We defended very stoutly and up the other end, we were hoping to create one or two more clear-cut chances.

"But the defence from the Ukrainians was very good and the game ended up a 0-0."

He added: "I feel as though we can play better than we did. We've shown in the two games flashes of decent play where we've cut the opposition open.

"We've shown a real solid base at the back to give us a chance."

Pearce suggested England should have had a penalty when Danny Welbeck blazed wide early in the second half, saying: "The ball missed the target by too far for no contact to have been made."

Daniel Sturridge was England's only attacking threat before the break, going agonisingly close to scoring what would have been the goal of the tournament.

"He looked like the one that was going to score," Pearce said.

"He's unloaded a thunderbolt in the first half which hit the bar.

"I was pleased with his contribution.

"Against Spain, I thought he could've done slightly better for us.

"I thought him and [Phil] Jones put a sterling performance in.

"One or players have given me a great deal to think about.

"The players who have not contributed so far might give us a lift on Sunday."

Pearce denied suggestions there were not enough goals in his squad.

"In the first half, we didn't get a player in support of Danny Welbeck quickly enough," said Pearce, who threw on Scott Sinclair and Henri Lansbury shortly before the hour mark.

"Henri Lansbury solved that problem for us a little bit.

"Our link-up play has to be a little bit cuter."

He added: "We've got the likes of Connor Wickham and Nathan Delfouneso, who have not featured.

"Scott Sinclair's scored 25 goals this season, Henderson will get goals from midfield.

"There's plenty of goals in. We'll have to create opportunities a little bit more clearly."

Defender Phil Jones said: "We knew we didn't play very well in the first half and we responded in the second half - we just couldn't get that goal.

"We know we've got to go and win the last game and we'll give it everything to do that.

"We're working hard and we'll try to put things right in the next match."

Ukraine also needs to win its final game to stand any chance of progressing and head coach Aleksandar Stavrev said: "Now that we have only one point, we know that we have to win the last game."

Source PRESS ASSOCIATION