Italy coach Roberto Donadoni praised the spirit of his side after they beat France 2-0 to reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2008.
Donadoni’s side qualified for the last eight as Romania lost to group winners’ Holland, and Italy will now play Spain in the quarter-finals on 22 June.
“This was a great response from the entire team,” said Donadoni.
“Our enthusiasm and spirit pushed us forward, even when it all seemed lost at one point.”
Andrea Pirlo put Italy ahead from the penalty spot after Eric Abidal was dismissed for a foul on Luca Toni.
Daniele de Rossi’s deflected free-kick off Thierry Henry ensured a comfortable victory for Donadoni’s side.
“Yesterday I said there was some hair on my pillow. Now I’m hoping my hair will grow back a bit,” the 44-year-old told a news conference.
“It was a good performance. Perhaps we were playing better 11 against 11.
Even as a footballer I was used to achieving things through hard work and sweat. I can’t do that anymore so I have to trust the boys.
“When we went 1-0 up there was a bit more tension than I expected but it is only human. In those moments as a coach you want to go on the field and help. I can’t do it anymore, because if I run 40 metres I get a tear in my thigh.”
“After that, a bit of fear and nerves came in.”
Romania could have dumped both Italy and France out of the tournament if they had beaten a Holland side managed by Donadoni’s former Milan team-mate Marco van Basten.
Holland won 2-0 but concerns had been raised about their motivation levels, having already qualified for the knockout stages.
But Donadoni said: “I didn’t have any doubts. I know Van Basten.
“I know what he’s made of. When they asked me to call him, it seemed useless, and disrespectful to him.
“It was ridiculous to even have doubts. It is one of the worst things you can even think about. If you have ambitions and love football, you can’t even think of these things. So it is good that Holland played well.”