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Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said the motivation to be "a good footballing side" ultimately helped his team qualify for the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-finals. The Azzurri won 2-0 against the Republic of Ireland in Poznan to finish as Group C runners-up and while Prandelli can now start planning for the weekend, his counterpart Giovanni Trapattoni was looking further forward after what he called a much improved performance.
Cesare Prandelli, Italy coach
We struggled in the first 20 minutes because they decided to try and press us and we couldn't actually squeeze the play in midfield. There was also tension in our play.
Perhaps we weren't expecting them to press so much but once we got organised, we played some very good football. I'm very happy with our performance – our four-man defence dealt with their long balls very well.
We were playing against a very aggressive side, who like to get the ball forward quickly, so what we tried to do was overload in midfield and have an extra man – we didn't want a game of ping-pong. You've got to win the second ball and it's not easy to get it on the deck and start playing football.
I think over the first two games [Spain and Croatia] we gave a good account of ourselves – but this was a very important match. We've often been criticised for how we deal against teams who play a high ball but we dealt with that very well tonight. I don't think we stopped our work rate – the only thing is that we had seven or eight minutes at the beginning of the second half when we couldn't put the game to bed unfortunately.
I'm happy for the team, for the squad. I'm lucky enough to work with lads who have won some trophies and are still very motivated – they're the ones who determine the team spirit. These players have a lot of quality, as long as they show intensity first and foremost. I wanted a team that could improve and a side that could play football. You have to be a good footballing side to do well here.
Giovanni Trapattoni, Republic of Ireland manager
I think this evening we played much better than against Spain and Croatia. We played with more personality.
Again the goals were soft, coming from two corners, but I am proud of our commitment. Italy beat us but we upheld our honour – maybe they deserved to win as they didn't make many mistakes. The first 30 minutes we played very well.
The main feeling now among the senior players is great disappointment – we will have to wait and see what happens in terms of if they want to play on or not. We have to hope we can do better because we played well tonight and gave them a tough game.
I think the fans have been absolutely exceptional – they've always supported us. We gave everything we could, we gave a lot of heart and soul on the pitch tonight for the fans. I had more faith that we could do better than we did.
Italy are well aware of their strengths and just how good they are. We're often talking about Spanish players, about how they have great skill and creativity, but Italian players have very good basic technique – they don't misplace passes. We conceded a corner from a misplaced pass, Italy don't do this and grow in confidence. Italy could go all the way but there are other strong sides.
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