Italy's players have dedicated their 2-0 victory against Ukraine to coach Roberto Donadoni, who finally ended his four-match wait for a win in Rome on Saturday.
Juventus goalkeeper Buffon led the tributes to the under-fire coach following the UEFA EURO 2008™ Group B success. "Donadoni has faced unfair criticism after our recent performances and we dedicate this result to him," said Buffon. "He was unfairly used as a scapegoat and we won for him." ACF Fiorentina striker Luca Toni, who scored the second goal, added: "I was pleased for Donadoni, who has been going through a tough period, like all of us."
Donadoni took over from Marcello Lippi after the Azzurri's FIFA World Cup triumph, beginning his reign with a 2-0 friendly defeat by Croatia. Their UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying campaign continued in similar fashion, a 1-1 home draw against Lithuania being closely followed by a 3-1 loss in France. Donadoni, though, commended his side's spirit. "I'd like to thank my players for their kind words," he said. "I like their attitude, and I especially like the spirit that exists among them. They are a great group."
Georgia in mind
Donadoni was not fully satisfied by the display, however. "This team has plenty of room for improvement," he went on. "We weren't as bad as we were when we lost in France, but we are certainly not unbeatable after this win. We must focus on Wednesday's game in Georgia. We have to be ready, especially as they will be playing in front of their fans. We have to be just as determined and aggressive as them." Italy have four points from three matches, five short of leaders Scotland and two behind France.
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