Destiny in our hands - Pearce

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Football News

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

Only victory will do in Sunday'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 Wednesday night's 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."

He added: "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 were inferior to England's opening opponents, Spain, but many of the same failings were in evidence in Herning as in Sunday's 1-1 draw.

Pearce said: "We were up against a very good side. We came out of the Spain game 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 earlier on Wednesday evening).

"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."

"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."

Daniel Sturridge was England's only attacking threat before the break, going agonisingly close to scoring what could 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."

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Daniel Sturridge
Stuart Pearce

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