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Conte: Italy have big intentions

"We can do great things," vowed Antonio Conte after his Italy side laid down a clear marker against Belgium, while Marc Wilmots and Thibaut Courtois spelled out their frustration.

Italy celebrate their win after the final whistle
Italy celebrate their win after the final whistle ©AFP/Getty Images

Antonio Conte, Italy coach
I've been repeating from the beginning – and I'm not one to tell lies – that this is a group first and foremost of men, and then of footballers. That's important because in a tournament like this you need an alchemy of people who get on well together, and the biggest satisfaction for me tonight is to see how happy they all were, including those on the bench. There's a very good spirit in this squad.

Having said that, we've got to be happy today, a bit happy tomorrow and then we have to prepare for Sweden because the memory of two years ago is still fresh, when we did well against England and then lost [to Costa Rica in the group stage]. That's a wound which remains in the minds of our players and fans.

We have big intentions and our objective remains the same, to get into the last 16. The objective is to get where we deserve to be, without any regrets. I think the fans are pleased when they see 23 players giving everything on the field and being willing to spill blood.

I cannot deny that I was very, very emotional today – to be coach of a country in such a big tournament doesn't happen every day. It's something special for the lads to wear this shirt, but I'd like to say also that with this unity of intention, we can do great things.

Emanuele Giaccherini, Italy midfielder and man of the match
Today is a fantastic day for me, but I'm also very happy for the team, for Italy, for the entire nation. We proved today that what happens on the pitch is what counts. The coach told us beforehand that we had to prove ourselves on the pitch, and today we did. We mustn't lower our guard; we have to keep the bar high because the level here is very high.

Every match is a story in itself and it will be difficult from here on in. We need to be there to help each other, even in the difficult moments, as even today there were some difficulties at times. But we have to know how to suffer, how to help each other and be united and compact.

Bonucci: Victory built on typical Italian qualities
Bonucci: Victory built on typical Italian qualities

Marc Wilmots, Belgium coach
We clearly made individual mistakes and the first goal put Italy in a good position. In the second half I wanted to be more attacking, which is why I took [Radja] Nainggolan off. I brought Dries Mertens on as I wanted to see more action on the left. [Romelu] Lukaku didn't have a great night and [Kevin] De Bruyne can do better too, but now is not the time to talk about that. We need to club together to qualify for the last 16.

I don't know how to answer [about De Bruyne's performance]. If I had an answer, I would give it. Maybe he was tired after a long season. He was prepared for this game and I think Kevin has given so much for the national team over the last four years and is always capable of scoring from a free-kick or delivering a killer ball.

[Leonardo Bonucci] played a 40-metre ball forward and we just had an error of communication, which really is not allowed at this level. I'm not sure if you saw the second half like I did, but they had ten men behind the ball and it's hard to get through.

If you make mistakes at this level, you pay dearly. But nothing is lost. We've got two games to reach the knockout stage, which is the aim when you are in the group, and that is what we are going to try to do.

Vertonghen's Belgium disappointment
Vertonghen's Belgium disappointment

Thibaut Courtois, Belgium goalkeeper
I'm really disappointed. I don't think we did enough except towards the end when we created a few chances but not enough to score. It was they who had the best chances; they were organised and tactically they were the better team. It was a really tough game and on Saturday we have to go out and win now [against Republic of Ireland]

We've been preparing for a while. But, as we saw in the friendlies, some runners come in from midfield and I'm shouting and shouting but nobody follows the run and the player ends up scoring. And afterwards you lose the game.

We knew it was going to be a tough game and they defended really well. I don't think they created any real clear-cut chances to kill off the game. The last goal was a counterattack and it came from a second ball, which we weren't solid enough to go and claim. They were quicker to it than us, so on Saturday we need to go out there and do more.

The first match is always very important, especially against a team like Italy – if you win that, then you're in a good position. But we're lucky the other match ended 1-1. Now we have to win the other two matches and be a better team.