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Gerrard admits to World Cup 'joy and relief'

The Liverpool skipper - who will be playing in his third World Cup should he make the trip to Brazil next year - scored the second as Roy Hodgson's men recorded a crucial 2-0 qualifying victory over Poland at Wembley.

And Gerrard, who described feeling "haunted" by England's failure to reach Euro 2008 earlier in the week, says he is thrilled to exorcise that memory. 

"It’s a great feeling of both joy and relief," the 33-year-old told the Liverpool Echo.

"It’s difficult to describe really. This team has been under immense pressure over the last eight or nine days.

"When you know the nation expects and everyone was waiting for us to qualify, the thought of having to go through the play-offs wasn’t a nice feeling. To get the win, top the group and qualify for Brazil means so much.

"The fact this will be my last World Cup was my motivation. I’ve enjoyed my England career and now I want to go to Brazil and enjoy it.

"This team has taken lot of criticism along the way which has helped to drive us on."

Gerrard also reserved special praise for Everton's Leighton Baines, who continued to deputise for the injured Ashley Cole in the England defence.

"He has been consistent for a very long time now," he said.

"He has been pushing Ashley Cole all the way. He showed why with the qualities he provides from the left side.

"Over the two games he’s probably been our most consistent player. The manager has got a headache who he picks for the next game."