Capello lauds England spirit

Coach Fabio Capello praised England for their battling qualities after they booked their berth in the World Cup knockout stages with a 1-0 win over Slovenia.

Striker Jermain Defoe's first-half goal was enough to give England a vital victory but they still finished second in Group C behind the United States.

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

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

The 64-year-old Italian coach, whose side could face Germany in the next round on Sunday in Bloemfontein, added that he was happy he had "rediscovered the team he knew from qualification."

Captain Steven Gerrard, who played predominantly on the left, said that England had always managed to get the required result when faced with a pressure situation.

"We showed passion, fight and team spirit - we're delighted to go through," said 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."

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

Capello later revealed that the striker was brought off because his ankle was "not so good" but expected him to be fit for Sunday's game.

"Wayne's had criticism, but today he worked socks off and I know goals around the corner for him," added the 30-year-old midfielder.

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