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Page last updated at 22:28 GMT, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:28 UK

Fabio Capello hails England hat-trick man Jermain Defoe


Early goal was key to win - Gerrard

England manager Fabio Capello hailed Jermain Defoe after the Tottenham striker scored a hat-trick in the 4-0 Euro 2012 qualifying win over Bulgaria.

Manchester City's Adam Johnson also scored his first international goal, but the story of the night was Defoe.

"Defoe is always very important for us," admitted Capello.

"He can shoot with his left foot and his right and his performance was really, really good and his movement without the ball was fantastic."

The victory at Wembley gets England's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, off to the perfect start and was a much-needed tonic following their disappointing performance during the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Defoe's finishing was clinical as he firstly gave the home side the lead after just three minutes, before essentially ending Bulgaria's resistance on the hour with a second and then adding a third late on.

It was vindication for under-fire coach Capello's decision to select the forward to partner Wayne Rooney, with whom he struck up an impressive partnership.

Manchester United forward Rooney played a decisive part in Defoe's second and third goal and Johnson's strike, with neat assists.

"I played Rooney in a position different than usual. He did very well. I spoke with him before the game," stated Capello.

"He had to stay just in front of the two central midfielders and from this position to go forward and to be free. The quality of Rooney was really high."


Capello also praised goalkeeper Joe Hart, who continued his good form for Manchester City by producing two crucial stops and saving a Glen Johnson attempted clearance on the line.

"Hart is playing very, very well," added Capello. "He made two fantastic saves. He is the England keeper and he is playing very well. The most important thing was to win."

Bulgaria coach Stanimir Stoilov admitted that his side had played with fear early in the game and that England's second goal, just as the visitors had begun to threaten, was crucial.

"It is very hard for us to lose this game. At the end of the game we did not play with discipline tactically. We were a bit scared in the start and played badly," said Stoilov.

"Just when we had found our game we conceded the second one and the game was over. England scored three goals on the counter-attack which does not speak well for us."

Stoilov also admitted that the retirement from international football of Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov was a major blow for his country.

"For Bulgaria it is a big loss not to have Berbatov," the Bulgaria coach continued. "He will always be missed and if he had played today it would probably have been a different result.

"We had our chances and missed them and England scored.

"It's Berbatov's decision and we should respect that. England have very fast forwards and we were destroyed on counter attacks in the last minutes. We left too much space in the middle for England."

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see also
Dawson facing spell on sidelines
04 Sep 10 |  Football
Hart 'enjoys' competitive debut
03 Sep 10 |  Football
England 4-0 Bulgaria
03 Sep 10 |  Football
Euro 2012 qualifiers as they happened
03 Sep 10 |  Football
International football photos
03 Sep 10 |  Football
Portugal U21 0-1 England U21
03 Sep 10 |  Internationals

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