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Page last updated at 20:24 GMT, Wednesday, 23 June 2010 21:24 UK

World Cup 2010: England spirit delights Capello

England manager Fabio Capello

Capello praises England togetherness

Coach Fabio Capello praised the spirit shown by England after they booked a berth in the World Cup knockout stages with a 1-0 win over Slovenia.

Striker Jermain Defoe's first-half goal gave England the win but they finished second in Group C behind the United States and now face Germany on Sunday.

"This is what I wanted to see - the spirit and to see them fight together," said Capello.

"We'll now go forward. Their minds are free and they can play without fear."

The 64-year-old Italian added that he was happy he had "rediscovered the team he knew from qualification".

Captain Steven Gerrard, who played predominantly on the left, had been confident England would get the required result, despite being under immense pressure.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty

"We showed passion, fight and team spirit - we're delighted to go through," stated the Liverpool midfielder.

"We've done it before when our backs have been against the wall but we need to do it all the time.

"We need to find consistency, especially in the knockout stages. If we perform like we did against Algeria then we won't get another chance.

"If we can keep this togetherness and work-rate going who knows what can happen, hopefully we can go all the way."

Gerrard also backed Wayne Rooney to rediscover his form after the Manchester United striker was substituted for Joe Cole in the second half.

Rooney, 24, has yet to score at the finals in South Africa, although he went close when his shot was tipped on to the post by keeper Samir Handanovic.

Capello later revealed that the striker was brought off because his ankle was "not so good" but Rooney is expected to be fit for the game against Germany in Bloemfontein. "Wayne's had criticism but today he worked his socks off and I know goals are around the corner for him," added Gerrard.

Amir Mir

The 30-year-old midfielder also called on his fellow players to "listen to Capello" during the remainder of their campaign.

His comments follow reports of a meeting between the players and management to discuss why the team had underperformed against the US and Algeria.

"We need to listen to the manager because his ideas are spot on," he stated.

"The mood is 110% better than it was a few days ago. We go again on Sunday and we don't care who we play. It's all about us now. If we turn up and play close to our potential then we're a match for anyone."

Defender Matthew Upson, who came in for the suspended Jamie Carragher and made several key interventions, concurred with Capello and Gerrard that the win had everything to do with the players' spirit.

"The key to winning - forget everything else, tactics, the lot - it's about you as a human being, it's about what you are willing to commit and your attitude and we did that really well," said Upson.

"The key is to give everything you've got, leave all your fear and inhibitions in the changing room and let go and give it a rip. Everyone's buzzing and the manager's on top of everything."

Goalscorer Jermain Defoe said it was a dream come true for him to score the winning goal.

The Tottenham striker pounced in the 22nd minute to convert James Milner's cross from the right.

"I'm lost for words - what a moment," enthused Defoe. "You dream about this as a young lad. I was focused but we won the game, which was the important thing.

"It was a must-win game, a cup final. The lads were fired up and to get the goal early was great.

"The support was brilliant - it has been difficult for them recently."

Midfielder Gareth Barry drew parallels with the 1990 World Cup, when England also drew their first two group games before scraping through to the last 16 with a 1-0 win over Egypt and going on to reach the semi-finals.

"We'd be delighted if we could go that far and maybe one further but it's early days still," said the Manchester City player.

"But confidence is growing and momentum is massive - hopefully we can keep gaining it."

And looking ahead to the rest of the tournament, substitute Joe Cole senses England will only get better and could even win the World Cup.

"I believe we can do it - I've felt it from six months ago," said Cole. "I just believe if everyone in the country thinks the same and if the players do their job, the World Cup starts here."

Jermain Defoe

Highlights - England 1-0 Slovenia

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see also
Coach Loew wary of England test
23 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Slovenia coach looks to positives
23 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Highlights - Slovenia 0-1 England
23 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Slovenia v England
23 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010

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