There was a sense of relief in the Italy squad as they qualified for the quarter-finals, but also a sense of a job well done after Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli struck unanswered goals against the Republic of Ireland. Three Azzurri players spoke to UEFA.com at the Municipal Stadium Poznan.
Daniele De Rossi, Italy midfielder
Everything worked out well. We said many times that we had to focus on our own game and if we did we would qualify, as we knew that Spain would play like they did and beat Croatia. We've seen that it was also difficult for them. However, we struggled in this game, perhaps more than the previous two. We couldn't find any space as they closed it down well.
The Irish are a good team, very physical. They definitely made it a very difficult game so they deserve credit for that. As for their fans, I've never seen anything like it. They play a good long-ball game and all you need is one mistake, one good moment for them. It's not easy when all their side are so physical.
Claudio Marchisio, Italy midfielder
It was tough, especially the last minute when we were waiting for the result from the other match, but then it finished very well for us. Now a new tournament begins for us, after an up-and-down round which was half very good and half so-so. But we got through this round, which wasn't easy, with Spain, Croatia, and even Ireland, who even though they were already out of the tournament gave everything they could today as well. So great credit to this team, who showed big character in a crucial game.
Maybe today with the change of tactics there was more balance in the team in comparison to the other matches. This is the way we are going to play in the next matches, no matter who we face in the quarter-finals. After an even game against Spain, who are European and world champions, we are happy to take on anyone.
Antonio Cassano, Italy forward
The tough victories are the best ones. The most important thing was to get through the group stages. I couldn't wait for the final whistle in the other match, but then the match finally ended, and I'm very happy. We don't fear anybody. The important thing was to qualify, and now the knockout stage starts and we will face anybody.
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