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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 9, 2009

England can rule the world, says jubilant Capello

Fabio Capello insisted England could rule the world after they booked their ticket to the World Cup in South Africa next summer with a dominant 5-1 victory against Croatia at Wembley.

• Harris: England still need Plan B
• Johnson: England reborn under Capello
• England 5 - 1 Croatia: Three Lions book finals place

Two goals from Frank Lampard, one from the penalty spot, two from Steven Gerrard and one from Wayne Rooney sent England's fans home in jubilant mood. It was sweet revenge for the 3-2 Wembley defeat against Slaven Bilic's side which deprived England of a place at the European Championships at Wembley less than two years ago.

And when asked whether England could now compete with the best at the World Cup, Capello said: "Yes, why not? All the players in the squad are really good.''

The victory meant England won Group Six with two matches to spare, having won all eight of their qualifiers, scoring 31 goals in the process with just five goals conceded.

Unsurprisingly Capello was delighted, insisting England had produced the best football during his 21-month reign.

Capello said: "I'm very happy. We played very well. The face of the players was different in training yesterday to when we played Slovenia. We played the best 20 minutes of the qualifying period. We were fantastic. We passed the ball quickly and the quality of the passing was very, very good.

"The spirit of the group. The concentration for every moment. The movement with the ball. I was happy with everything.''

Capello singled out Aaron Lennon for special praise after the Tottenham star had won the penalty with a darting run and tormented the Croatian defence with his searing pace.

Capello said: "I was sure he would be in the first 11 against Croatia when I saw him play against Birmingham. He was fantastic. We need a player like him. One to one it is not easy to stop him.''

Croatia's defeat left them in a battle with Ukraine for the runner-up spot in Group Six, which would give them a chance of going to South Africa via the play-offs.

And while Arsenal's Eduardo managed a lone consolation for Croatia with a second-half header the expectations among the Wembley faithful are bound to soar after a performance which only cemented England's improvement under Capello.

"There is always the same expectation with the England team,'' said Capello. "It is very high. We have to play to win because we are England. We have one of the best teams in the world. We always have to play with the spirit we did this evening.

"The first target is OK, we have achieved it, we are going to South Africa. We have time now to prepare for the World Cup.

"I know the problems of playing in the World Cup. We have eight months and it is important no players are injured.''

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