LONDON (Reuters) -Raheem Sterling hailed England's superb collective display as they reached the European Championship quarter-final with a 2-0 win over rivals Germany on Tuesday.
The Manchester City forward broke the deadlock in the 75th minute before captain Harry Kane made sure of victory 10 minutes later when he headed in substitute Jack Grealish's cross, sparking wild celebrations at Wembley.
The victory was England's first against Germany in a knockout round at a major tournament since the 1966 World Cup final.
"We knew we needed a big performance against a difficult side, and we did that today," Sterling said. "Doing it for your country is always special. For half a second I thought let it (Sterling's goal) not be offside, but I'm so happy it went in.
"We knew the intensity we could play at, not a lot of teams can deal with it.
"We kept going, (Declan) Rice and (Kalvin) Phillips, ate up ground and were animals in there. All-round, great team performance.
"We take it game by game, we go away, recover and get focused onto the next one."
After scoring two goals in their opening three games in the tournament, Gareth Southgate's England will be relieved to have doubled that tally within the final 15 minutes of the match.
Southgate was particularly impressed with Sterling, who bagged his third goal of the tournament.
"Raheem has to prove people wrong all the time. He's been immense for us over three, four years," Southgate said.
"He knows we have the faith in him, that trust in him. His performances have been electric."
Midfielder Declan Rice said his team created their "own slice of history" and delivered a fitting response to their critics, who had written them off after uninspiring group stage performances.
"A lot of people, you looked at the group stage games, had written us off with complaints about the performances, not scoring enough goals," Rice told BBC.
"But as players you put that to the back of your mind, and I think we did that today."
Grealish added the creative spark when he came off the bench to help break down a stubborn Germany defence.
"I've played a part in the first goal and made the second, so I think it was a good performance from me," the Aston Villa playmaker said. "The manager just told me to go out and express myself, play with a smile on my face, and I did that."
Kane was once again struggling to make any meaningful contribution up front but found another gear in the closing stages, and his return to the scoresheet will give England plenty of confidence heading into the quarter-final.
"When you're a centre forward, it doesn't matter what else you're doing, you need those goals," Southgate said. I was pleased to see the second one go in, I have to say."
England will next face either Sweden or Ukraine in the quarter-finals in Rome on Saturday.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in BengaluruEditing by Toby Davis)