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Page last updated at 21:39 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 22:39 UK

Capello hails 'best' England win


Capello delighted to qualify for World Cup

Fabio Capello called England's 5-1 win over Croatia the "best performance" under him as the squad qualified for the 2010 World Cup finals.

England cantered to victory at Wembley thanks to goals from Frank Lampard (2), Steven Gerrard (2) and Wayne Rooney to keep up their 100% qualifying record.

Coach Capello said: "I'm very happy. We've achieved our target early.

"I think this was the best performance under me. We played fast, pressed the ball and our movement was fantastic."

The romp was England's eighth win out of eight in Group Six, ensuring their qualification for next summer's tournament in South Africa with two games to spare.

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They have scored 31 goals in that time, conceding only five, and the difference between England under Capello compared to predecessor Steve McClaren could hardly be more marked.

It was at Wembley that McClaren watched his England side fail to qualify for Euro 2008 with a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Croatia.

But Wednesday's procession made it 9-2 on aggregate over the two games in which the sides have met in this campaign, following a 4-1 win in Zagreb last September.

"Both of our performances against Croatia pleased me," stated Capello. "We need to press hard, play fast and develop our movement on and off the ball - and we showed that in both games.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty

"In the first 20 minutes tonight we were fantastic. I don't think we've ever been so strong and compact as we were at the start of this game."

And the Italian hinted he would give the fringe players in the squad the chance to impress in the final two qualifying games and he added: "I think I will give others a chance and have a look at things.

"I don't need to decide now but it is an option, yes."

Captain John Terry was equally pleased but echoed his manager's sentiments to guard against complacency from now on.

"When we play like that, pressing opponents and working the ball, we're a difficult opposition for any side," said the Chelsea defender.

Terry proud to lead team to World Cup finals

"But don't forget, it's taken a year or so for us to get this good and we've still got a way to go to get to where we ultimately want to be. But we're on the right track."

Terry meanwhile claims to have been spat at by Bolton striker Ivan Klasnic during the second half of Wednesday's victory.

However, the 28-year-old insists the incident should not detract from the joy of qualifying for the World Cup.

"It's not a nice situation," said Terry.

"He is the first person who has ever spat at me. It's one of those things but let's not let it ruin a massive night for us."

Two-goal midfielder Lampard, though, insisted the players should be allowed to enjoy their qualification and commented: "The way we've played tonight typifies our campaign I think.

"We've got a long way to go to win the whole thing, obviously, but we've qualified and we're there. It's nice to get excited at the moment and we will celebrate this, I'm sure."

Croatia boss Slaven Bilic was left in awe of England's performance and believes that if Capello's side can continue in the same vein then they will be contenders to win the World Cup next summer.


"We didn't expect this in our worst nightmares," conceded Bilic. "They were fantastic from the start.

"They didn't surprise us. They played their own game and they looked the sharper, more aggressive side even before the first goal.

"We were very happy at half-time that it was only 2-0. It could have been five. Our goalkeeper was fantastic.

"When we conceded a third goal we could not come back. I would like to congratulate them for a fantastic performance.

"If they manage to play like this then of course they can the World Cup."

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see also
England 5-1 Croatia
09 Sep 09 |  Internationals
International football photos
09 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Bilic explains England comments
09 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Pick your England XI
31 Aug 07 |  Internationals
Croatia 1-4 England
10 Sep 08 |  Internationals
England 2-3 Croatia
21 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Lampard praises improved England
07 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Defensive mistakes anger Capello
07 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Who has qualified for South Africa 2010?
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Defoe form hands Capello dilemma
05 Sep 09 |  Internationals
England 2-1 Slovenia
05 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Capello recalls Crouch and Lennon
30 Aug 09 |  Internationals
McClaren haunted by England failure
08 Sep 09 |  Internationals

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