germany 1-2 england

Coach Capello hails England's year in the sun

November 19, 2008

Fabio Capello believes it would have been impossible for England to have done any better in his first 12 months in charge.

GettyImagesJohn Terry and Scott Carson embrace after the final whistle.

The Three Lions rounded off a memorable year in perfect style by beating Germany 2-1 in Berlin.

Capello's side dominated throughout and even recovered from the setback of conceding a needless equaliser thanks to a mix-up between goalkeeper Scott Carson and match-winner John Terry to secure their deserved success.

It means England ended the year with seven wins and a draw from their nine matches under Capello, the only reverse coming against France in his second match in charge last March.

And the Italian admitted it could not have gone any better.

"I think it is impossible to be better than this,'' he said. "We have played nine games and after every one I said the players had taken another step forward. Today is another one.

"The players played very well. They played like a team. That was very important.''

The manner of the performance was as eye-catching as the victory itself.

Matthew Upson put England ahead with his first international goal midway through the first half after home keeper Rene Adler failed to connect with a punch aimed at Stewart Downing's curling cross.

After bouncing off Gabriel Agbonlahor, who had an outstanding debut, the loose ball lobbed invitingly for Upson, who bundled home from close range.

By that point England were well on top and seemed set to stroll home, only for Darren Bent to miss a second-half sitter, followed almost immediately by the collective failure of Carson and Terry to snuff out the minimal danger posed by a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area, allowing Patrick Hermes to tap home the simplest of equalisers.

When Shaun Wright-Phillips, who was also outstanding, belted a shot against a post nine minutes from time, it seemed England would have to settle for a draw.

But Terry rose highest on the Three Lions' next attack to steer home Downing's free-kick and send 7,000 visiting fans into raptures.

"It was a very good result for us,'' said Capello. "I said yesterday I had confidence in the team because I felt the players knew what I wanted during the game and knew what they had to do.

"We played very well, all the players did. They played with confidence and technical ability and I am very happy about that.''

Capello brushed off Germany's comical equaliser, although he will not be wanting a repeat when England tackle Spain in their next friendly in February.

Equally, he was reluctant to heap too much praise on Agbonlahor's shoulders, well as the Aston Villa striker played. The team display was just too accomplished.

"Gabriel did very well,'' said Capello. "He used space and his movement was excellent. He gave us balance when we went forward and when we defended. But I don't like to speak about one player because the whole performance was so good.''

After all the talk of meaningless friendlies, it turned out to be a worthwhile exercise after all.

A number of supposedly key men who missed out might have shuffled somewhat uncomfortably in their armchairs given England's mesmerising display, with Michael Carrick, Downing, Wright-Phillips and Upson among those to make the biggest impact.

However, Capello is not making any bold declarations for the future, content, in the time-honoured fashion, to take each match as it comes.

"This result doesn't send any message to the players who are not here,'' he argued. "They will be very happy because we won.

"When I started this job I said we had to recover the confidence. The players who have been with us understand this. We can see it during the game and in training. We are very pleased.''

Germany coach Joachim Low admitted his side were clearly second best.

"The English were better over the whole game,'' he said on the German FA's website. "We had a bad day and deserved to lose. Only in the second half did we get into the game a bit, but we have huge problems with positioning, in our organisation and in the build-up play.

"You can see clearly that England were stronger. We did not have the maturity today to beat these opponents.''

Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger agreed with his coach, adding: "It was not our best day, but England played well tactically. We were simply not good enough.''

Bayer Leverkusen keeper Adler claimed Upson's goal should not have stood, saying: "I am the last person who would not admit to a mistake, but I think that there was a foul in the goal which made it 1-0.''