Pressure too much for Rooney
Roy Hodgson has leapt to Wayne Rooney's defence after the Manchester United striker failed to reproduce his best form at Euro 2012.
The England manager believes too much pressure was placed on Rooney's shoulders after he had missed his country's opening two group games through suspension. Question marks have been raised about the United forward's fitness during the tournament, but Hodgson is adamant the 26-year-old was in good shape physically, despite taking a break in Las Vegas before leaving for Poland and Ukraine. Apart from his goal against Ukraine, which was his first at a major finals since 2004, Rooney has now struggled to deliver the goods for England in the last three championships. His quarter-final display in Kiev against Italy on Sunday looked jaded as he missed several chances throughout the 120 minutes to find the back of the net, despite converting in the penalty shoot-out which Hodgson's men eventually lost 4-2. Hodgson said: "I think we put a lot of expectations on Wayne. "When he missed the first two games, we were all believing that what we needed to do was to get to the third game and Wayne Rooney will win us the championships. "That maybe was too much to ask of him. "Wayne certainly tried very hard, but he didn't have his best game. I think he would admit that. "Do we put too much expectation on Rooney? Well we do, but so do other teams with their players, don't they? "I think in all top international teams, you're looking at one, two, possibly three individuals that everyone recognises as being exceptional world-class talents. "When you get to the big stage, you're hoping those players perform and show they're world-class talents, like the Maradonas that win Argentina a World Cup with his performance."