Saturday, 17 November 2007

[Scotland 1-2 Italy] Azzurri reaction

Italy coach Roberto Donadoni insists his side were well worth their 2-1 victory over Scotland which saw them book their place at Euro 2008.

Christian Panucci's last-gasp winner ended Scotland's dreams of qualifying for their first major international tournament in a decade as top two spots in Group B now go to the Azzurri and France.

Donadoni said: "We knew that it was going to a very physical game and the atmosphere made it even more so.

"I have to say that the lads were magnificent. This is a victory that belongs to these players who fought with character and desire: all the credit goes to them."

Luca Toni gave the Azzurri the best possible start when he opened the scoring after just two minutes before Barry Ferguson sent Hampden Park into raptures with a 65th minute equaliser. But Panucci struck in injury-time to break Scottish hearts.

"The most positive note of the evening is not just qualifying for the European Championships, but also in this atmosphere with fans and players who always cheered on their side with fair play," Donadoni added.

Panucci said: "Tonight I'm as happy as a child, like my son who is six. I have had many great moments in my career but never like this.

"I am so happy for myself and Donadoni. I hugged him so many times. This qualification was also his. I played with him at Milan, he has a winning mentality.

"It's the happiest moment of my career."

Fabio Cannavaro, who was winning his 112th cap, insisted that the Azzurri had answered all their critics with the all important victory.

"We showed our strength tonight," said the Azzurri captain. "We are a compact squad and when we know we have to win we succeed in giving great displays.

"We showed that we are World champions and that we haven't forgotten how to play.

"After the equaliser we were worried to tell you the truth, we felt their desire. Scotland were growing stronger and had several good chances, but we managed to stay strong."

Toni was also full of praise for his side's mental strength after the World champions had to dig deep against a battling Scotland side.

"We came here knowing that we were going to play in very difficult conditions," he said. "And that's what happened tonight. This is the best we've played under Donadoni.

"My goal was very important, because we showed them what we had come here to do."

Meanwhile, one player in the Azzurri line-up has just one cloud over his evening - helping rivals France to reach the finals too.

Gennaro Gattuso, who played in Scotland for Glasgow Rangers, said: "I am proud of the qualification we have achieved with this squad. But I am really annoyed because I know we also helped France to go through."

Gattuso spent a year at Rangers at the start of his career and married a local girl, but even stronger than his love for the country is his dislike of Les Bleus.

"Raymond Domenech is always being such a pain and he really did not deserve to reach the finals.

"Now I hope to meet France at Euro 2008 so we can teach them all a lesson."

Source: C4 Football Italia

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