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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 3, 2010

Capello hails Rooney-Defoe partnership

Fabio Capello hailed the finishing of Jermain Defoe after watching his England side heal some of their World Cup scars with a 4-0 qualifying victory against Bulgaria at Wembley.

• Brewin: Capello confounds critics

Tottenham striker Defoe scored a hat-trick and Manchester City's Adam Johnson scored his first competitive goal for his country.

Capello, who needed a convincing competitive victory after the shambles of England's defeat against Germany in South Africa, said: "Defoe is always very important for us. He can shoot with his left foot and his right and his performance was really, really good and his movement without the ball was fantastic.''

The victory gets England off to a flying start in their group, although one sour note for Capello was an injury to Michael Dawson, who was carried off in the second half with what looked a nasty knee injury.

Capello said: "I have to wait to find out about Dawson. I am not a doctor. We have to wait for the tests, but no-one else had problems, only Dawson.''

The Tottenham defender, however, looks certain to miss the trip to Switzerland on Tuesday.

But Capello was buoyed by the way Wayne Rooney played in a different striking role.

Capello said: "I played Rooney in a position different than usual. He did very well. I spoke with him before the game.

"He had to stay just in front of the two central midfielders and from this position to go forward and to be free. The quality of Rooney was really high.''

Capello also praised the contribution of goalkeeper Joe Hart who made two crucial stops and saved a Glen Johnson attempted clearance on the line.

Capello said: "Hart is playing very, very well. He made two fantastic saves. He is the England 'keeper and he is playing very well. The most important thing was to win.''

Bulgaria coach Stanimir Stoilov said: "It is very hard for us to lose this game. At the end of the game we did not play with discipline tactically. We were a bit scared in the start and played badly.

"Just when we had found our game we conceded the second one and the game was over. England scored three goals on the counter-attack which does not speak well for us.''

Stoilov admitted that the retirement from international football of Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov was a major blow for his country.

"For Bulgaria it is a big loss not to have Berbatov,'' he said. "He will always be missed and if he had played today it would probably have been a different result. We had our chances and missed them and England scored.

"It's Berbatov's decision and we should respect that. England have very fast forwards and we were destroyed on counter attacks in the last minutes. We left too much space in the middle for England.''

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