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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Oct 15, 2008

Rooney salutes team-mates for a job well done

England striker Wayne Rooney paid tribute to his team-mates after scoring another two goals in tonight's 3-1 win in Belarus.

Rooney's second double for the team in four days, following a brace against Kazakhstan, helped maintain England's 100% start to their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Yet the in-form Manchester United star, who also scored against Croatia last month, was modest about his efforts.

He told Setanta Sports: "I think I owe a lot of credit to my team-mates - great individual work by Emile for the first goal and a great pass by Stevie.''

With 12 points from their four games, England have now made their best-ever start in World Cup qualifying and Rooney felt tonight's win was thoroughly deserved.

He added: "I think it was really good, we had to work really hard.

"Belarus are a good football team, they pass the ball well, similar to Arsenal.

"We worked hard - I think we deserved three points.

"To get three points and 12 from four games is a great boost.''

England captain Rio Ferdinand was pleased with the performance but insisted the job was still far from done.

"It's good but still there is much to improve. It doesn't make us qualify because we have won four on the bounce - it puts us in a good position.

"We are happy with where we are but we want to keep going in the right direction and winning games.

"We made sure we were a tight unit and not easy to get through. The one time they got the ball behind us they scored.

"We are disappointed in that aspect but we managed to score some good goals.''

Ferdinand also praised the efforts of Steven Gerrard, who after criticising his own performances earlier this week, opened the scoring in Minsk.

"I am delighted,'' he said. "Maybe he was a little over-critical of himself. You can't always be superman for every game you play.

"He does it a lot for Liverpool and he has done it a couple of times for England.

"He is his own worst critic because you want to do it all the time for England. Tonight was a step in the right direction, it was a great finish."

Gerrard admitted he was happy to put all the debate about his role within the England side behind him after starring in the win.

The Liverpool midfielder set England on their way to victory with a long-range effort after 11 minutes.

"Playing for England you always have a point to prove,'' he told Setanta Sports.

"You are fighting for the shirt every game and it's always nice to score and win.

"A lot of people have been talking about me and Frank Lampard and where I'm going to play all week but as long as I am in this team and we are winning football matches then I'm happy.

"I thought I played well tonight. But every game I play for club or country I try and play the best I can do.

"Sometimes I haven't always hit the heights I would have liked to but I'm moving forward now and I'll continue to work hard and give everything I have got for the country.''

The 28-year-old said he was relishing his next game in an England shirt.

"When you are winning you want the next game to be around the corner, but it's nice to be top of the league going into the end of the year,'' said Gerrard.

"We have got a couple of friendlies before the next match where we can try different things and by the time the next qualifier comes around I'm sure we'll be even better again.''

Rooney received special praise for his performance from Gerrard.

"When Wayne's in this type of form he's up there with the best players in the world,'' said Gerrard.

"He's a special talent and the understanding and awareness he has is fantastic. It's a pleasure to play with him.

He did warn, however, that despite the win, England will still have to improve if they are to become world-beaters.

"We are slowly building into a good team but there's a long way to go yet before we get to where we want to be,'' he said.

England manager Fabio Capello was quick to stress the importance of team unity in his side's victory.

Tonight's win means England have got off to their best start in a World Cup qualifying campaign and Capello said he was delighted with the win, which he saw as a superb team effort.

"I'm very happy, it was a very important game for us,'' the Italian told Setanta Sports.

"Belarus are a good team. We played well in the first half but in the second half we played better.

"Gerrard played well but all the players did. It is very important for us if we want to play well we have to play like a team and not as single players.

"Tonight I saw one team and that was very important for us.

"Wayne Rooney is on good form at the moment and worked hard for the team tonight, but it wasn't just him. All the players played fantastic tonight.''

Capello urged caution, however, when asked whether England's fourth consecutive qualifying campaign win marked the start of a new era of success for the Three Lions.

"It is only one step. It was an important victory but we have to play more games before we get to South Africa,'' he added.

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