But when invited to praise his captain Fabio Capello was true to form. The team came first. "I'm happy for John Terry. But I'm happy for the team because this was a very tough game," said the Italian. "I'm very happy with the character of the players. I do not want to pick anyone out. They played like a group. This is very important. You can succeed only if you play like a team. That's important. The character, the positioning on the field. We didn't make mistakes too easily."
Pressed, Capello eventually said of Terry, "he's an important player. A strong character. This is important for a captain." But the emphasis remained on the group. "I'm very happy, because five victories is important," added the England manager. "Now we have two months before the next games and I hope, in June, the players will be more brilliant, more fresh, than now."
When England's campaign resumes with matches in Kazakhstan and against Andorra they will have a five-point cushion over Croatia but the Ukraine coach, Oleksky Mihailichenko, insisted: "It's too early to say they can't be caught. Only half the games have been played. Let's see what happens in the future. They're in a great position, but let's see."
Terry responded: "If we can win our next two games we will be in a very good position." Of the game he added: "At 1-0 it was a bit too easy for us. They didn't really pose a threat to us. At 1-1 we could have settled for a draw and walked away half-happy but we showed good desire and went on to get the winning goal so I'm really pleased."
In the circumstances the authoritarian Capello will probably overlook the frivolity of England's celebrations. Crouch, who earlier this week suggested he would keep "The Robot" under wraps as he did not think Capello would approve, marked his goal with more robotics. Terry celebrated his goal by shaping up for a haircut from Wayne Rooney. Terry explained: "In the week I needed a little trim and we are not allowed to leave the hotel for anything, so I asked Wazza if he would oblige and he gave me a little trim. I'm happy with it. I might go back, though he says I owe him a tenner."
The night's one injury concern, Rio Ferdinand, who was withdrawn late on, said afterwards he would "be OK" to face Aston Villa for Manchester United on Sunday.
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