Steven Gerrard believes Daniel Sturridge's form will be key to England's progress in the World Cup after his Liverpool team-mate's man-of-the-match performance helped guide the Three Lions to a comfortable victory over Peru.
After an uninspiring start, Sturridge scored a delightful opener in the 32nd minute, curling a sweet left-footed shot into the top corner from just outside the box.
That paved the way for England to add some gloss to the scoreline after half-time, with centre-backs Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka converting corners from Leighton Baines.
Sturridge led the line for England, having sometimes been deployed as a wide-man by Roy Hodgson, and he rewarded his manager by converting his prolific club form to the international stage.
The 24-year-old notched 27 goals last season, and Gerrard - his captain for club and country - was not surprised by Sturridge’s latest stunning strike.
"I've seen it all season with Daniel," the midfielder said. "I think he got big confidence with the manager putting him in his favourite position. That goal will do wonders for him. If we're to progress and do well in this World Cup we need Daniel and Wayne (Rooney) and the other forwards to produce magical moments and that was certainly one of them."
Sturridge himself revelled little in his goal, with a victory the only thing on his mind.
“I’m more worried about the team,” he said. “I’m more worried about helping the team win games. Whether I score, whether anybody else scores... it doesn’t matter. It’s about winning games, it’s about getting results, it’s about working as a team.
“We take the praise as a team and when things go badly we lose as a team, so it’s not about individuals. Never, if I score goals, will I take the praise because there’s always somebody else who’s played a part in it. The striker is understandably eager for the World Cup to start, as he looks to impress in his first major tournament in an England shirt.
“I’m excited to be a part of such a great squad. The experienced players are helping everybody understand how big an occasion it is,” said Sturridge, who was on the standby list for Euro 2012. For the younger players, including myself, we don’t understand how big it really is, to be honest.
“It’s obviously the pinnacle of everyone’s careers, but from my personal perspective it’s great to be a part of everything. I’m just happy to be a part of this squad.”
Gerrard was more reserved about England's collective performance against a limited opponent, admitting there was plenty of scope for improvement before their opening World Cup Group D clash against Italy on June 14th.
“I’m happy. I wouldn’t say I’m delighted. I think there’s still things to work on,” said the captain, who turned 34 on Friday. It’s a good result. It was a good performance. We’re in good shape. But it’s going to get more and more difficult as we move along, so it’s important we keep improving.
“It’s exciting. There’s still a bit of a way to go. I don’t think we’re ready to peak yet. We’ve worked really hard so we were a little bit leggy (on Friday night). But we’ll be in fantastic shape going into the Italy game, so I’ll be really proud and happy and hopefully we’re all ready to go in that game.”