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The Bolton defender admits he thought he was offside but delighted to be off the mark in Sofia, while Chris Smalling celebrates his international debut after the comfortable win

Gary Cahill admitted he was thrilled to score his first goal for England in his maiden competitive fixture for his country, as Fabio Capello’s men secured a 3-0 win over Bulgaria.

The Bolton defender put the Three Lions ahead after 10 minutes in Sofia but said he had originally thought he was offside.

Speaking after the game to Sky Sports, Cahill said: “It was crazy. After I finished it I heard a whistle and I thought it was offside or I would have been a lot more excited than that, but I'm happy with that.

“It was a strange feeling, I looked over and obviously the flag was down so it was fantastic to get my first goal but most of all the result was the most important thing," he continued. "It was a good performance by the lads.”

The 25-year-old was earning his fourth England cap and, as one of a group of less experienced players in the squad, feels the injection of youth will benefit the national side.

“Yeah there's a lot of young lads that have come in but that's only good for England,” he said.

“You go out there and play with a smile on your face and the more times you get involved you learn a lot from the senior boys out there.”

Having been publicly tracked by Arsenal and Tottenham among others over the summer before eventually staying at the Reebok Stadium, Cahill admitted the speculation had had an effect on him.

“It's been a difficult week mentally, but once the window was shut I knew obviously I was staying,” he continued.

“So I'll get my head down, work hard for Bolton and work hard for my country.”

Fellow international new boy Chris Smalling, who made his debut for England in the still-unfamiliar position of right-back in which he has impressed for Manchester United at the start of this season, said playing there did not worry him.

“It's a bit different, I've played there a few times already this season and the manager gave me a job and luckily it paid off,” Smalling added.

“It was good to get a clean sheet.”

“It's been a great few years for me. I remember being here a couple of years ago with Fulham, I played my first European game here so to get my first England cap here as well is two memorable moments.”

“It's because of what we achieved, tough game coming away from home but we really enjoyed it.”

Both players look likely to keep their places for Tuesday’s potentially decisive clash with Wales in which England could seal qualification for Euro 2012.